Partnerships for skills: Learning from digital frontrunner countries
Effective skills development requires stakeholders from industry, trade unions, the education sector and national and regional governments to work together to build responsive and inclusive skills systems. However, bringing together stakeholders in the skills system is not easy. The government, the education sector and industry have conflicting priorities when it comes to education and skills, as well as different ways of working. Nevertheless, stakeholders in the skills system can work together to tackle skills gaps and improve economic outcomes for citizens and industry. In this report, we focus on how to ‘build a resilient labour market system that can adapt to changes in skills demand’. This requires all stakeholders involved – the education sector, unions, industry, government and civil society – to work together in cross-sector partnerships. However, in many European countries, the stakeholders in the skills system do not collaborate enough. As a result, increasing collaboration between these stakeholders is a priority at the national, European and international level. To produce this report, we used qualitative research to gather insight and case studies from key stakeholders in the skills system in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, the Netherlands and Belgium (referred to throughout as the Nordic and Benelux region). Specifically, this report addresses the question, ‘How can the government, industry, the education sector and other key stakeholders work together to address digital skills gaps?’. To answer this, we draw on research and experience from our two programmes in the Nordic and Benelux region. Digital Frontrunners is a network of senior policymakers, experts and practitioners working to develop innovative approaches to tackling labour market challenges. FutureFit is a major training and research project. In partnership with some of Northern Europe’s largest trade unions, leading researchers, employers and adult learning experts, the project is focused on creating an effective adult learning system to help tackle inequality and social exclusion. This report provides recommendations on how to build effective partnerships. The strategies presented here are practical and tailored to the fact that readers might find themselves at different stages of collaboration. Each recommendation comes with an example of how it could be implemented in practice.