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Match - Innovation and learning project (TED)

Match -  Innovation and learning project (TED)

Skills are key elements contributing to the prosperity of nations and to the better lives for individuals. That is why countries have invested heavily in skills over the past decades. For workers, skills mean employability and social mobility. For society, skills represent a major component of its productivity, competitiveness and innovation.

To supports policy makers and practitioners in ETF partner countries to improve their systems of matching between supply and demand for skills is at the heart of ETF’s work.

Specific challenges of ETF partner countries

ETF partner countries are facing specific challenges in producing the right mix of skills for the actual and future needs of labour markets. In a context of dynamic and complex labour markets, improved matching of skills and jobs is of paramount importance. High youth unemployment and a delayed and precarious entry of young people into the labour market may raise the question why young people are the most affected group.High shares of young populations, outmigration and brain drain create a high need for more and better jobs. The demand side of the labour market is often characterised by a predominance of micro and small enterprises which cannot clearly articulate their skills requirements and face uncertainties about the future. The economies of ETF partner countries are more dependent on foreign direct investments and technologies, with a divide between an emerging, modern sector on one side and a traditional, often informal, sector on the other.

ETF partner countries – heterogeneous among themselves - often have underdeveloped labour market monitoring data and management systems. These framework conditions make it necessary to carefully assess the transferability of good practice approaches for anticipation and matching and to adopt them to the specific framework conditions and requirements. There is an obvious and articulated demand for better labour market matching in ETF partner countries. The ETF project supports the development of tailor made solutions.

The challenge of labour market mismatch

Skills mismatches may be due to ineffective signalling of labour market demands to education and training providers and to individuals, but they are often a consequence of a lack of responsiveness on the part of education and training providers to information about skills demand.

Mismatch between skills demand and supply contributes to high numbers of unemployed people – among them many well educated young – on one side, and skills requirements from employers which cannot be met. Large sectors of informal employment constitute a specific “in” and “out” for labour market participants, and in some cases a dual economy with modern enterprises at one side, and a traditional sector with low productivity at the other.

Why is effective labour market matching important?

Common goals for the future are to ensure that people find gainful jobs, to increase labour market participation and to enhance job creation of competitive businesses. This requires better matching between demand and supply of skills, avoiding skills shortages on one side and unemployment on the other side.

Anticipation involves analysing the evidence and early and careful analysis of future trends. But anticipation is not an end it itself, it serves to improve matching systems. Improved matching results in reduced gaps between supply and demand in the labour market, increased employability of the workforce and reduced skills shortages.

Objectives and approaches of the ETF project

The ETF project started 2011 and will be implemented until 2013 as innovative learning project (ILP). The main objectives are to facilitate network building among experts from EU countries and ETF partner countries, and to exchange, assess and adapt methodological approaches and instruments for monitoring and anticipating skills requirements, applicable for different context and different kinds of decisions for the education and training system and for labour market management.

The activities planned include:

  • Measuring mismatch: To start the debate on how mismatch is best measured, the ETF will measure mismatch based on readily available data in ETF partner countries. These measurements will then be assessed with the assistance of the network.
  • Network building: ETF will bring together high level experts form various partner countries with experts from EU member states to build a sustainable network.
  • Taking stock of current practices in ETF partner countries: National experts will provide information on current practices, experiences and the main actors involved. In a cross country view, similarities and differences will be assessed and methodological gaps identified.
  • Assessing and describing methods for anticipating skills demands: ETF, together with the network of experts, will assess and describe instruments for monitoring and anticipating skills requirements, in line with the specific needs and framework conditions in ETF partner countries. A special focus will be on the question how the findings are used for better matching.
  • Relevance of results for decision makers and stakeholders: The results will be disseminated and debated with policy makers and expert practitioners of the education and training system, public employment services, social partners, researchers and practitioners in ETF partner countries.

Which methods for which purpose?

A multiplicity of approaches, combining quantitative and qualitative methods, is required to achieve viable results for policy makers and practitioners at various levels, addressing short-, medium and long term time horizons. Anticipation approaches are widely used also in ETF partner countries. While employer surveys are a frequent practice, other forecasting methods which are regarded as traditional workforce planning are critically viewed in some transition countries. The following matrix proposes a classification of methods according time horizon and levels.

Roles of labour market actors

Forecasting and anticipation approaches require the broad cooperation of various actors. Decision makers in government, employment services, social partners and practitioners of the education and training system need to join forces and expertise to ensure optimal and reliable results. To become effective, the findings about current and future labour market demands and trends need to be transferred into actions. The questions to be addressed in the course of the project are: how well is the current matching of supply and demand understood by the actors, how are the results of forecasts and surveys used, and how does the education and training system translate the findings?

Learning from experiences and developing tailor made methods

At the EU level the EU 2020 strategy with the flagship initiative “An agenda for new skills and jobs” is aiming at creating conditions for modernising labour markets and promoting an enhanced mix of policy instruments and targeted actions. Employment Guideline 8 of the EU 2020 strategy calls for “developing a skilled workforce responding to labour market needs, promoting job quality and lifelong learning”.

Project implementation will take full account of good practices, but also learn from failures. ETF will maximise synergy, using the rich experience and research findings from EU countries in monitoring, anticipating and matching. The transferability of good practices will be assessed and adapted to fit the specific framework conditions of ETF partner countries.

European Training Foundation
Villa Gualino, Viale Settimio Severo 65
I – 10133 Turin, Italy
T: +39 011 630 2222

Lizzi Feiler, project team leader 
T: +39 011 630 2256


    VET system assessment

    Lifelong learning

    Put simply, lifelong learning means that people can – and should have the opportunity to – learn throughout their lives.

    Skills and migration

    Skills and migration

    Increased labour mobility across borders brings the skills issue onto the international agenda so the ETF also focuses on policy actions related to skills and employment of both emigrants and returnees.

    Entrepreneurial learning

    Entrepreneurial learning

    The ETF aims to develop the capacity of partner country institutions and other stakeholders in developing, monitoring and reviewing policies in the areas of entrepreneurial learning and enterprise skills.

    Employment and Employability

    Employment and Employability

    “Employment”: promoting better functioning and inclusive labour markets and vocational education and training systems in ETF partner countries.

    Qualifications Systems

    Qualifications Systems

    The ETF's role in qualifications is to provide expertise for the reform of qualifications systems in partner countries, in their various stages of planning and implementation.

    Learning and teaching in VET

    Learning and teaching in VET

    Teachers are a critical factor in education reforms. The ETF takes therefore the role of schools and teachers seriously throughout its work.

    VET quality assurance

    VET quality assurance

    Quality assurance is provided through the development of methodological instruments to facilitate a structured policy learning process, integrating quality assurance principles, and reinforcing the quality assurance dimension in the Torino Process.

    VET Governance

    People around a table

    Governance modes and models have a high correlation with the overall performance of education and training policies, influencing their strategic formulation and implementation.


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