Connecting skills development to productivity and employment growth in developing and developed countries
lack of adequate employability or core work skills (ILO, 2004f and 2006b; OECD,
54. Addressing the shortcomings in terms of the relevance and quality of pre-
employment training demands a host of policies and measures. The measures reviewed
below are among the instruments countries are using to improve access to, and raise the
relevance and quality of, pre-employment training.
55. Integrating core and technical skills training is becoming imperative in improving
employability. The higher probability of changing jobs and occupations over a lifelong
career, or of working with new technologies, as well as the trend towards flatter
management hierarchies within enterprises, have raised the demand for employability
skills, for example, the ability to work in teams, take responsibility for quality control,
and embrace opportunities for continual learning
(OECD, 2007a). In the United
Kingdom, employers have identified certain core work skills, including communication,
customer relations, teamworking and problem-solving skills, but also literacy, numeracy
and general information and technology skills, as being deficient among many
jobseekers, acting as a brake on recruitment and causing loss of potential productivity to
enterprises (Confederation of British Industry, 2007).
56. Quality assurance is likewise receiving increasing attention. Many OECD
countries are putting in place quality assurance systems to increase the transparency of
the quality of education and training programmes offered by accredited public and
private training providers. Such efforts aim to ensure that private and public investment
in training has higher returns in terms of relevance of training and employability of
trainees. Such quality assurance systems could include monitoring the content of training
programmes against sector or national standards, as well as tracing, and publicizing the
post-training employment experience of programme graduates.
57. Certification of skills and recognition of skills acquired on the job comprise
another area that is being developed. Some countries are pursuing both accountability to
standards and recognition of prior learning through national qualification frameworks.
Box 2.2 illustrates the sophisticated and highly regulated quality assurance systems in
Australia’s technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and the social
partners’ involvement in the development of standards and skills assessment and
certification. Apprenticeship systems in some European countries similarly involve
employers and trade unions in defining occupational standards and curricula. Skills
assessment schemes, increasingly based on occupational standards, help individuals to
identify their skill deficiencies and provide a guide for the learner and training
institution/provider (ILO, 2000a, para. 17).
58. Occupational standards and competency-based training are intended to improve
the relevance of training and thus of the employability of trainees. Competency-based
training shifts the emphasis from time spent in training courses to what trainees can
actually do as a result of the training. Based on sound labour and work analysis
involving the social partners, occupational standards provide the essential link between
workplace requirements and education and training institutions and programmes.
Standard setting has strengthened institution–industry collaboration and provided better
guidance to students on the skills and knowledge they should be able to master and
Employability “relates to portable competencies and qualifications that enhance an individual’s capacity to
make use of the education and training opportunities available in order to secure and retain decent work, to
progress within the enterprise and between jobs, and to cope with changing technology and labour market
conditions” (Recommendation No. 195, Paragraph 2(d)).