Overview of the Danish approach
Danish skills anticipation activities are based on the involvement of social partners in funding and direct research collaboration, which is undertaken mostly at trade and local levels by research and consultancy companies. Skills needs analysis is performed during the development of occupational standards and sectoral and regional analyses.
Skills anticipation comprises a range of methods and tools, including: quantitative forecasting; sector studies; qualitative methods; employer surveys; and surveys of workers and graduates. While there is no single national instrument for skills governance, quantitative skills forecasting is well established. Macro-econometric models implemented in the 1970s are used to produce economic forecasts and policy assessments. The Danish employment forecasts and future labour market demands are categorised by sector and are combined with information about labour demand by educational level and sector. Potential imbalances in the labour market can be predicted by comparing future outflows from the education system with employment forecasts. Qualitative skills forecasting is also undertaken in order to assess future skills needs in the labour market; this is supported by administrative data.
Alongside the forecasting instruments, there is a clear policy framework where goals, objectives and working methods are defined for the education system, the forecasting infrastructure, the labour market and all stakeholders involved. This is coupled with a well-developed tradition of social dialogue between stakeholders, but mainly in relation to low and middle-level skills. Their involvement in skills anticipation is not institutionalised at the higher skills levels. The government has tried to improve the match between graduate demand and supply through a centrally defined dimensioning model, which is based on historical data. (2)
The municipal public employment services (PES) are responsible for matching and for active labour market policy, while monitoring and analysis are undertaken at the regional level. The Labour Market Balance supports the work of the PES. Developed in 2006 as a part of a national monitoring strategy (national overvågningsstrategi) to support systematic monitoring of the labour market through standardised methods and transparent communication about labour market developments, (3) the Danish Labour Market Balance provides data on job opportunities for approximately 850 occupations by region covering the entire labour market. The Labour Market Balance model uses demand data from the employer survey and regional PES data on unemployment by qualification to serve as a proxy source for current supply.
Using these data, regional labour market intermediaries are able to prioritise employment and training measures and counsel jobseekers. The Labour Market Balance consists of three components:
A national employer survey;
A labour market model, drawing data from the survey, PES data on the registered unemployed and registered vacancies, and national statistical data about employment and turnover in the labour market;
An online interface.
The online interface of the Labour Market Balance helps PES staff to prioritise employment measures, and frontline caseworkers with a tool to support jobseekers in finding employment. It allows the user to identify occupations with labour shortages or a sufficient supply of labour. Occupations are classified as ‘less good job opportunities’, ‘good job opportunities’ and ‘excellent job opportunities’. It is also used to manage the adult apprenticeship scheme, the ‘positive list’ (positivliste) for educational opportunities, migration policy and upskilling and reskilling. Data are updated every six months.
The overall aim of the skills anticipation activities is to provide individuals with better opportunities to obtain employment. In order to achieve this, skills planning uses foresight initiatives to inform education, employment and skills policies.
The purpose of the Labour Market Balance is to support the day-to-day operation of municipal job centres and other labour market actors and intermediaries. Its aim is to provide information on the regional job situation for guidance counsellors in PES, and to provide the regional governing bodies with an overview of the current employment situation that can inform the monitoring of employment policies and measures. The Labour Market Balance is a part of the Active Employment Initiative (Aktiv Beskæftigelsesindsats), established by law. It is used to target jobseeker CVs and job plans and offer upskilling, education, job training, etc.
Responsibility for the day-to-day implementation of employment policies in Denmark is largely decentralised to the municipal level. The Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment has three Labour Market Offices (Arbejdsmarkedskontorer) that work to ensure the implementation of reforms in municipal job centres and coordinate the continuity between employment, education and growth and business policies (4). In addition, they serve the eight Regional Employment Offices (Regionale Arbejdsmarkedsråd) that coordinate collaboration across municipalities and support for areas with either a lack of labour or high unemployment. Also, the Offices approve the regional ‘positive list’ for the regional education and training fund (uddannelsespulje).
At the national level, the
(Ministeriet for Børn, Undervisning og Ligestilling) produces statistics on education, the labour market and labour supply, including forecasts on the educational behaviour of each cohort, which are used to set policy targets.
The Ministry of Finance (Finansministeriet) produces quantitative forecasts specifically on labour demand and supply in the public sector. Trade unions produce long-term forecasts on labour supply and labour market imbalances using data provided by Statistics Denmark (Danmarks Statistik), the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Employment (Beskæftigelsesministeriet).
The Ministry of Higher Education and Science (Uddannelses-og Forskningsministeriet) provides online guidance about higher education programmes with good employment prospects through Uddannelseszoom (Education Zoom), a digital tool for reviewing statistical data for higher education and training. (5)
At the regional level, the Regional Growth Forum assesses future education and skills needs in each region. These committees bring together 21 representatives from regional authorities, municipalities, business communities, labour market actors and education and research organisations. They are tasked with creating and maintaining growth in their region. There are six Regional Growth Fora. (6)
Finally, an independent think tank, the Economic Council of the Labour Movement (ECLM) (Arbejderbevægelsens Erhvervsråd) conducts small, in-depth analyses for unions and businesses. In 2016 for example, the ECLM published a report which mapped the need for labour towards 2025. According to the report, Denmark will by this point be at risk of needing skilled people and have a surplus of highly skilled people. (7) ECLM is funded by the Danish trade unions.
Skills governance is decentralised in Denmark. Although well established, concerns are expressed that the existing approach may no longer suffice to inform stakeholders about medium-term skills needs. Regional offices and a national agency work to ensure a systematic approach, continuity and congruence in skills anticipation activities.
The role of stakeholders
A range of stakeholders participate in Danish skills anticipation activities through a well-established and transparent process of communication and cooperation. These social partners play an institutionalised role at all levels of skills anticipation and support the link between education and labour market needs, demonstrated by the number of fora comprising representatives from government, education, business and unions, such as the Regional Growth Forum, the ECLM, the National Advisory Council for Initial Vocational Education and Training (Rådet for de grundlæggende Erhvervsrettede Uddannelser) and the trade committees.
At national level, the National Advisory Council for Initial Vocational Education and Training monitors developments in society and labour market and highlights trends influencing VET. The Council then makes recommendations to the Ministry of Education regarding the VET programmes and their labour market relevance. At a regional and local level, VET colleges and social partners work together to enhance VET programmes to meet the needs of the local business environment. This is supported by local training committees (lokale uddannelsesudvalg), which ensure close contact between VET colleges and the local business environment. Labour market training (Arbejdsmarkedsuddannelser) is designed according to short-term labour market forecasts focused on specific occupations.
In addition, there are approximately 50 trade committees (faglige udvalg) comprising employers and employees across Denmark. These trade committees set the content of education and training programmes, objectives and assessments. Local training committees (lokale uddannelsesudvalg) work with colleges in programme planning supporting collaboration with local trade and industry. They undertake relevant analyses, development projects, etc., and maintain close contact with relevant stakeholders to monitor the labour market. The Ministry of Education may also appoint development committees to examine new job areas that could possibly be covered by a VET programme. The committees are typically established in areas where no trade committees exist. (8)
The independent National Skills Advisory Groups in Denmark support the coordination and dissemination of data and intelligence gathered as part of skills anticipation activities. Therefore, they play a key role in skills anticipation.
A number of tools have been developed to provide access to data and intelligence from the skills anticipation activities:
The Labour Market Balance, which was developed to assist management and staff in the municipal job centres. It provides regional intermediaries and other stakeholders in the labour market with easy access to information about the current situation.
The Educational Guide
(UddannelsesGuiden) is an online tool that provides information about educational programmes. The objective of this guide is to inform students about employment opportunities and prospects for an educational programme when entering into education. Forecasts are also used to inform educational planning and training budgets.
The ECLM provides data and intelligence for businesses, trade unions, and career counsellors located in schools and local educational guidance centres.
Guidance counsellors and services are a key target group for skills anticipation intelligence activities. Guidance counsellors and services are seen to have a key role in ensuring that young people, students and unemployed people have adequate information with which to make informed decisions.
Funding and resources
The Labour Market Balance is managed between the Danish Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment (Styrelsen for Arbejdsmarked og Rekruttering) and the regional Labour Market Offices. The Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment consists of 14 units, including the regional Labour Market Offices. In the Agency for Labour Market and Recruitment, one unit comprising two people is responsible for the Labour Market Balance. (9)
An external provider manages and administers the employer survey, which costs approximately 1.5 million Dkr. a year (€200,000).