1. Designing a SECTOR Map

The current dynamism and complexity in labour markets demand an improved matching system between job requirements and VET programmes.

Instruments such as the ‘sector map’ are a prerequisite for transparency and good communication between education and the labour market at a regional level, also supporting dialogue on increasing VET relevance for the labour market.

A ‘sector map’ provides a frame of reference for the occupational domain of a sector, positioning jobs in their professional context in relation to VET programmes and vice-versa: it helps you to link jobs and careers with VET programmes and learning pathways. For policy-makers, it provides a common reference framework.

It can also help students (and their parents) and workers to determine their present position and target their ambitions, including the ways to get to their desired destination. In other words, it provides an overview of career possibilities and corresponding learning pathways to plan the future.


Different perspectives can be taken into account to analyse and describe the labour market (and its demand for new workers in sufficient numbers and at the right level of craftsmanship:

  1. International
  2. National
  3. Sector/branch
  4. Region
  5. Job/Profession
  6. Organization
  7. Individual

A Sectoral focus is the most relevant scale for (national) VET policies and programming, as well as essential in anticipating changing skills needs. A 'sector' can be described as a collection or community of companies/organizations that share a specific market. Organizations in a sector have similar clients, similar work processes, similar employees who need similar education and training, with similar craftsmanship and a body of knowledge that is often also (partly) shared with customers and suppliers.

Because of the consistency (in labour and VET) at a sector level, it is relatively easy to make a meaningful ‘map’ and to monitor the markets of business, labour and education. The (future) requirements, in terms of jobs and skills, are influenced by national and international trends and developments - but have to be determined on a sectoral and regional scale to be translated into an individual match between employees and jobs in an organization, or between students and VET programmes.

The concrete match between the labour market and VET programmes is made in the regional context, where demand and supply really meet, varying through different and overlapping sectors and branches, but within relatively short travelling distances.


Made up by two dimensions, level and contents (on jobs and education), a map offers a clear overview of the sector and branch as a whole, describing the labour market and VET within a recognizable, clear and simple context to identify career and learning paths. The sector map provides a common background for:

  • types and levels of professions/jobs
  • career development and mobility
  • corresponding VET programmes
  • statistical information on labour, mobility and education

Moreover, it is applicable to every sector and the different associated target groups:

  1. Companies and employees, in terms of staff planning and career development
  2. School leavers (and their parents) and job seekers, providing information and recruitment for profession and training
  3. Researchers and policy makers, who can be aware of numbers of people, inflow, through and outflow, growth and contraction, shortages and surpluses
  4. VET providers and other training suppliers, to obtain useful information regarding job requirements and actual levels of demand and supply


Developing a map provides a clear and immediate overview and a common reference framework to support and add transparency to the dialogue between (VET) education and Labour. Stakeholders need a common frame of reference to set the scope and define the domain, in a way that is understood by both the worlds of work and of learning. Each cell of the map contains a job or a consistent group of jobs. The corresponding VET programmes can be projected onto the same grid to see whether there is a fit between jobs and VET supply. It is also possible to project quantities of workers; the yearly outflow and need of new entries can be projected to determine the amount of vacancies. This can help to quantify the shortage or surplus. The same can be said about demand and supply in traineeships.

The map also provides a background to explore dynamics in the sector, in relation to the mobility of workers and job innovation. For instance: How many order pickers would like to be trained in their commercial skills to make a step towards a counter job? Which VET programme facilitates that career? Or: Which jobs are affected by the implementation of ICT systems? What programmes do we have available to train the various employees? Instruments such as the sector map are a prerequisite for good communication between education and labour market at the regional level.

The sector map is not only relevant to describe the present and future situation for policy makers but also acts as a practical instrument for individual professionals and the companies they work for. It can be used as a 'roadmap' for individual professional development and career planning. It also gives companies an instrument for planning staffing and development in terms of quality and quantity (inflow, internal mobility and outflow). The sector map provides a frame of reference for labour and VET programmes at a high level. It helps policymakers to be well aware of their domain, to analyse the situation and to determine their scope.


Designing a Sector Map can be very easy and useful. The following steps will lead you to your ‘Sector Map’:

STEP 1 Map out the jobs to provide the context (I.A.)

STEP 2 Contextualize the relevant VET offer (I.B.)

STEP 3 Collect and present quantitative data regarding labour and VET (I.C)


When capturing the relation between VET programmes and the labour market in a sector map, it is always advisable to consider the dynamics on both sides - and the different trends and challenges due to the changing future, besides other critical conditions, such as:

  • Limitations, due to the existing, defined sector, with 'organized businesses' to work with
  • Engagement in terms of sector support and mutual commitment
  • Representativeness and competences of people and organizations
  • Recognition / validation by companies, unions and VET representatives

This means that a sector map needs to be robust enough to last for a minimum period but also needs to be recalibrated (depending on the sector of reference, every 3 - 5 years on average) to remain accurate as a representation of the ever-changing reality of labour and VET.

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