Overview of the Swedish approach
The core of skills anticipation in Sweden is based around the work of three government institutions: the national statistics office, Statistics Sweden (SCB), the PES and the NIER. Each of these institutions conducts its own research and analysis independently and then publishes the results. SCB publishes its Trends and Forecasts report every three years and the results from its Labour Markets Tendency Surveys (Arbetskraftsbarometern) annually. PES publishes its Where are the Jobs? (Var finns jobben?) and Labour Market Outlooks (Arbetsmarknadsutsikterna) reports twice a year. Additionally, it also publishes weekly and monthly labour market statistics, available both in terms of national and regional data. The NIER publishes monthly results from its Business Tendency Survey (Företagsbarometern) as part of its larger Economic Tendency Survey (Konjunkturbarometern). Furthermore, the NIER also publishes a more extensive quarterly version of its Business Tendency Survey.
Individually, none of these publications provides a holistic analysis of skills anticipation. However, in 2007 a government inquiry found that the publications complement each other well. (1) thus, when combined, they provide a comprehensive estimate of the current and future demand and supply for skills.
In addition, there are numerous organisations that produce their own forecasts and reports, many of which focus on specific sectors or occupations. The most notable of these organisations is the Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations (Sveriges Akademikers Centralorganisation) and the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise (Svenskt Närlingsliv). Although these organisations produce their own forecasts, most of them also work closely with SCB and the PES, assisting in the collection of data.
There is also a coordinated approach to anticipating skill needs at the regional level. The Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth (Tillväxtverket) is responsible for supporting regional platforms relating to skills. The platforms match regional vocational education provision to skills demand. The regional governments usually chair the platforms, which are based on regional partnerships that include industry, the public sector and education providers. (2)
The data provided by the three institutions are intended for use by government agencies, jobseekers, education/training providers and labour market intermediaries. The forecasts and assessments influence mainly decisions on the provision of new educational programmes. The data collected by the PES have also been used extensively by the agency in deciding which types of labour market training programmes to provide and support.
There is a little statutory regulation regarding skills anticipation. SCB, the PES and the NIER each have certain roles and obligations as determined by law or their ministries, but none are exclusively tasked with skills anticipation. Swedish law does however, guarantee that everyone is entitled to free educational and vocational guidance. The data gathered by the skills anticipation activities are used by the individuals and institutions which provide this guidance.
Skills anticipation is the responsibility of the three main institutions mentioned above. Each of them falls under the jurisdiction of a different government ministry:
SCB and the NIER are subordinated to the Ministry of Finance
The PES is subordinate to the Ministry of Employment
SCB is responsible for long-term skill forecasting while the work of the NIER and PES is mainly short-term.
The role of stakeholders
Social partnership has a long history in Swedish policymaking. The main stakeholders are employers, trade unions, representatives of education and training institutions and various third-party organisations with an interest in skills.
Within Sweden there is a long-held tradition of close collaboration between government institutions and various organisations within the labour market. Numerous social partners provide data and support to the skills assessment processes. This is instrumental to a coordinated approach to skills anticipation. The most notable examples of this are the sector councils and the occupational expert council. In addition to providing inputs to the skills analysis, these councils also discuss possible challenges identified as a result of the data as well as how to respond to them.
These same partners are then also involved in the creation of new policies and laws, either through direct collaboration with the governmental bodies in question or through independent appraisals. The most notable stakeholder organisations are the Swedish Federation of Business Owners (Företagarna), the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise and the two largest trade unions, Unionen and the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (Landsorganisationen).
Another example of the role of stakeholders is the Labour Market Council (Arbetsmarknadsråd), which is composed of representatives from various stakeholders in the labour market. The council is managed by the Swedish National Agency for Higher Vocational Education and takes part in formulating and commenting upon policy within the agency.
The data produced by SCB and the PES and NIER are intended for use by official government bodies, academics and the public. All results are published on each institution’s website. In addition, the PES also makes its data available through the Job Compass (Yrkeskompassen) tool, which is hosted on the agency’s website. The tool offers users the opportunity to look up the demand for specific occupations on a country basis as well as by regions.
Funding and resources
There seems to be no specific budget dedicated exclusively to skill anticipation exercises. SCB and the PES and NIER are all wholly funded and run by the Swedish government. The Ministry of Finance allocates each institution a yearly operating budget. This budget is decided by officials within the ministry based upon past expenditures and future responsibilities. It is then later amended by the Swedish parliament (Sveriges Riksdag), which then makes the final decision whether to accept the budget.