AN EDUCATION & TRAINING STRATEGY ( & SYSTEM) FOR 2020 – THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME?. Ewart Keep ESRC Centre on Skills, Knowledge & Organisational Performance. IN THINKING ABOUT THE FUTURE - THE BAD NEWS IS………. All the easy problems are now more or less solved!
ESRC Centre on Skills, Knowledge & Organisational Performance
Adair Turner, ex-DG of the Confederation of British Industry:
When I joined the National Skills Task Force I thought skills was a simply problem. By the time we finished our work, I had come to realise that skills is the most complex public policy problem that exists today.
The year is 2020. The model that follows draws on leading edge developments taking place today across the OECD - in places like Australia, Ireland, Scotland and the Nordic countries.
In 2020 initial education, at every level (including vocational offerings for young people), aims to give individuals a broad platform of learning upon which subsequent, more specialised vocational learning can be built.
Initial learning is seen as a preparation, not just for work, but for the whole of life.Belief that in C21 success will go to the countries that have, not just smart workforces, but also smart societies and citizens.
Lorry driver training in the UK and Germany:
Basic Heavy Goods Vehicle licence, plus H&S
Maths, physics, German, logistics management, vehicle maintenance and a large component of citizenship learning (since workers have ‘careers’ as citizens as well as in work).
All the available research evidence tells us two things:
1. There is NO simple, direct causal link between stocks of skills and economic success (for economies or for firms)
2. The reason for 1 is that:
1st Order = Product market/competitive strategy and production system.
2nd Order = HRM, work organisation & job design to deliver 1.
3rd Order = Workforce skills profile needed for 2
Therefore, in 2020, beyond initial education, workforce skills policy nests inside:
Many policies and interventions do not start with, or have a primary focus on skills.
They will be to do with issues such as innovation, the development of new products and services, and new forms of production system and work organisation - which will have consequences for the design and delivery of skills supply systems.
Traditional E&T funding systems obsessed about maximising throughput or volume in publicly-funded E&T schemes that aimed to substitute for employer effort and spending.
In 2020 policy focuses more on effort and resources on helping employers to help themselves, through state investment in E&T capacity building.
In 2020 the E&T system is managed through:
Traditional top-down models of policy design and implementation have been supplemented, via devolution of responsibility, with opportunities for the bottom-up design of interventions, for networking across the E&T system, and the use of strong feedback loops that allow those at the front line of delivering policy to offer views and advice to those who design and manage the system at the top.
Within a system with a clear set of responsibilities, and where power is devolved, there is also a high degree of trust between the different actors, agencies and levels.
As a result, reliance on management by simple output targets has become much rarer.
The E&T system in 2020 supports, and is supported by, a programme of action research/policy development that aims to create the new policy instruments and agencies needed to address skill demand and usage issues.
Evaluation is built into all policy lines and there are good feedback loops that allow its fruits to be shared and used across the policy community.
In 2020 there are still unanswered questions and challenges:
We can only find out what works by trying it!
The only alternative on the table is to go back to traditional skills supply models.
The country or countries that get closest to the kind of model outlined above are liable to have a big advantage in the C21.