Since January 2017 (newly launched). It will continue until 2020.
This instrument combines the needs of the labour market with the provision of adequate (re)training opportunities from the education system, and it is dedicated to adults, specifically to adults with non ICT higher education, who are currently employed or unemployed. Furthermore, adults who have discontinued their non-ICT higher education, but have attained 50% of the curricula before dropping out, can apply for the programme. Lastly, applicants must have at least 3 years of work experience.
The policy instrument addresses the issue of labour shortages in the field of ICT. As there is a serious mismatch between the supply and demand of such workers, more active measures are needed in addition to classical ones, e.g. increasing the number of study places and engaging qualified foreign labour. This implies that the possibilities for retraining and in-service training for adults have to be broadened.
The policy goal is to improve digital literacy (information and communication technology skills) of adults. The rationale for the intervention is to provide active and intensive retraining opportunities in the field of ICT for adults with higher education (or discontinued higher education, 50% of the curricula must be completed), who currently work in other areas (or are currently unemployed), but in the future are interested in working as software developers or more general, in the ICT field. The instrument contributes to increasing and enhancing digital literacy of adults through active, intensive and agile retraining programme.
The policy instrument is explicitly designed to tackle labour and skills mismatch in the ICT field. As there is a serious mismatch between the supply and demand of such workers (with knowledge and skills in ICT), this instrument broadens the possibilities for retraining and in-service training for adults in the ICT field, both for employed and unemployed adults.
Aim of policy instrument
Main responsible body
Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications
Commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications (as the implementation institution - rakendusasutus), its Department of State Information Systems (as the main implementer)
Advising/consulting - if needed, other departments in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications; the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund, especially with unemployed adults.
Training providers: BCS Koolitus AS, IT Koolituskeskus OÜ
Monitoring, surveillance and control - the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, its Department of State Information Systems; the Information System Authority (RIA, as the implementation unit - rakendusüksus)
€1,419,522. Funding - ESF (85%), national budget, SF (15%).
The intended beneficiaries are the adult learners and also employers in the field of ICT. The adult learners benefit from free and intensive retraining, which give them the chance to change jobs and start their careers in the ICT field where the salaries are much higher and there is high potential for development. They receive a certificate after completion that confirms the learned topics and the volume of retraining.
The employers gain from the additional supply of qualified ICT workers, which enable them to find workers and to retrain and teach them in cooperation with the government and training providers. The employers can participate and guide the retraining process through feedback.
In general, the economy benefits from qualified and highly paid ICT workers, who in turn generate higher tax money and add more value in the labour market and the economy than many other jobs.
Use of labour market intelligence
According to a study (2013) by PRAXIS "On the current state of affairs and the need for labour force with ICT skills" Estonia needs additional 2600-4500 specialists with software developers skills until 2020.
In addition an important basis for the creation of the programme was the ***OSKA system*** report on the skills need and forecast of ICT workers. Furthermore, during the planning phase of the project ICT entrepreneurs were involved to determine and account for their needs and expectations on ICT workers` skills.
This retraining programme is built in a way that enables to collect feedback during retraining and to change, modify, redesign etc. its activities accordingly to the needs of the participants (learners, employers).
Based on OSKA prognosis active steps have been taken by the state to increase the supply of skilled ICT workers.
The OSKA system is explicitly designed to comprehensively tackle skills and labour mismatch in the labour market and the economy.
The OSKA system is a LMSI tool/platform designed to analyse and forecast (in 5-10 years prospective) the labour market needs both quantitatively (how many employees are needed in key occupations sector wise) and qualitatively (which are the expected competence profiles in key occupations), and to recommend necessary adjustments in the education and training offer. The OSKA system is an amendment to the Estonian occupational qualifications system. OSKA combines the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications` sectoral labour forecasts, national statistics, and expert knowledge. Please see in more detail EE_5
Participation in training (e.g. lectures, discussions, workshops, seminars) is free of charge for all learners who are submitted to the programme. Indirect costs related to the training (e.g. accommodation, travel) are not reimbursed for the participants. On the other hand, when the applicant is currently unemployed he/she is transferred to the Estonian Unemployment Insurance Fund for additional support, e.g. to receive travel benefits etc.
Frequency of updates
Feedback is collected after each retraining course, and the curricula and study process is amended accordingly.
After the pilot phase, the curricula was amended according to the feedback of employers and learners, e.g. information regarding databases and the creation of web apps was added.
As the programme is still in its early stages, it is difficult to identify barriers.
The approach taken with the programme is very flexible, e.g. the curricula and activities are amended after each retraining period, feedback is collected from all stakeholders and used for improving the retraining process. There is strong cooperation between the state, training providers, ICT employers and representative organisations.
After each retraining period, feedback is collected from the participants (about 3 months after completion). The indicators are:
- The number and share of people who successfully completed the programme versus the number and share of people who discontinued their studies. The successful learner must obtain all knowledge and skills described in the curricula and the learner must complete the whole programme.
- The number and share of people who after finishing the programme are employed in jobs related to the programme - ICT field versus the number and share of people who are employed in non ICT jobs.
- The number and share of people who after finishing the programme are employed in ICT enterprises versus other, non ICT enterprises.
- The number and share of people who are satisfied with the completed programme.
- The number of successfully organized re-training rounds.
In general, it is possible to actively retrain people in whatever field necessary and during a limited period of time, but this is the first major initiative in the field of ICT in Estonia. In addition, this retraining initiative is based on tight cooperation between the Government, training providers, ICT employers and representative of other organisations. This intervention is important, as we are already facing serious labour shortages in the ICT field, thus it is essential to raise awareness about retraining possibilities and to provide relevant retraining opportunities, including for adults with higher education (or uncompleted higher education), who have a different, non ICT background and who are currently engaged with other disciplines.
Evidence of effectiveness
In 2017, 38 out of 40 learners successfully finished their studies. Only 2 participants discontinued their studies. Reasons for discontinuing were unexpected health problems and difficulties with combining study and family life (e.g. finding day care for children).
Three months after the end of the programme, 28 participants were employed and 3 participants were studying ICT in the university. 7 participants are currently not working, but two of them are planning to take up entrepreneurship. 42% (out of those who finished) are employed in ICT related jobs and 32% work in non ICT related jobs.
The programme was evaluated as positive by everyone who finished their studies. 78% wish to continue their work in the ICT sector. Until now (autumn 2017), there have been no unexpected costs and no unexpected benefits. The latter may be disclosed at the end of the programme.
Engagement of stakeholders
Employers are actively engaged in the activities of the instrument. They are highly motivated to provide internship places for learners, as they are likely to offer jobs to successful interns after their completion of their studies. This initiative will help to create new jobs and fulfil currently vacant jobs.
The training providers in the programme are involved through procurement contracts.
This instrument would be most successfully transferred to another country if the other country also experiences problems with finding appropriate and qualified ICT workers, and there are strong labour shortages in the ICT field. This instrument is recommended when it is necessary to (re)train a certain amount of newly qualified ICT specialists within a limited time period (rather quickly). Also, the instrument requires the tight cooperation of the state, training providers, ICT employers and ICT representative organisations. Thus all parties must show interest and will to cooperate.
Estonia is already experiencing serious labour shortages in the field of ICT and this will most probably continue, because its population is aging and there are not enough students, or adults who choose ICT as their specialty. Therefore, if this initiative is successful then it is highly likely that it will continue after 2020.