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Title NEWSKILLS
Education and training, new job skill needs and the low-skilled
Aspect
Concept Trends Findings Practice Challenge
Synopsis Findings related to the training of the low-skilled include the following: 

(1) Supply of training in the workplace. Years of education are an input to skill formation and for most individuals that input is a necessary condition for reaching a minimum skill level recognised on the labour market. A comparison of the volumes of training provided in European countries to individuals in the workplace led to the following result: The least well-educated (ISCED 0-2) were least likely to receive employer-provided training. The exception was Germany where 70 per cent of training incidences are reported to be provided for this group. Most of this training was provided for young people in apprenticeship. Older employees were less likely to receive training, except in Sweden. Full-time employees were more likely to receive training than part-time employees.

(2) Attitudes to workplace training. An analysis of why the ISCED 0-2 group should receive less workplace training suggested that workers with ISCED 0-2 receive as many offers of training as other skill groups but are more reluctant to take up such offers. One hypothesis advanced to explain this reluctance suggested that the group does not attach much weight to future benefits. Data from the case studies confirmed the view
that employees do not normally receive higher wages following a period of employer-provided training. This lends support to the hypothesis of low incentives to participate.

(3) Informal workplace learning. This approach was explored in a case study of firms in the footwear and electronics sectors in Portugal. The study claims that it is possible for a traditional manufacturing sector to incorporate advanced technologies into production while employing a workforce having only traditional levels of skill (mostly ISCED 0-1). It is hypothesised that traditional craft-based skills proved a suitable foundation for the utilization of electronic production and information technology. This paper helps to explain the apparent paradox of the Portuguese economy in which demand for the ISCED 0-2 group remains high and constant over the period 1985-97. However, case studies on other countries suggest that in the EU in general, where the service economy increasingly dominates, firms need a mix of skills and that economic prosperity cannot be built principally on ISCED 0-2 skills unless circumstances are exceptional (McIntosh 1999, pp. 7-8).

Reference Finding related to complex issues of the supply of and demand for skills in the period 1985-1997, focusing on the particular position of the low-skilled in the labour market, are presented in the final project report (McIntosh 1999).
See also project info on NEWSKILLS.
Descriptors D-CDO  D-CVT  EP02        E07b
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO