6.B Structural approach

Between 2015-2020, the Sector Skills Alliances projects (across Europe) aim to tackle skills gaps, by identifying sector specific labour market needs and demands for new skills:

  • With regard to one or more occupational profiles (demand side), or
  • By enhancing the responsiveness of initial and continuing VET systems at any level (supply side), to sector-specific needs.


By placing the aim of mitigating skill mismatch and raising VET attractiveness at its heart, the New Skills Agenda for Europe provides a challenging set of policy proposals.  The Insights into skills shortages and skill mismatch – Learning from Cedefops’s European Skills and Jobs Survey report cites that:

  • there is marked variation in the extent to which skills mismatch is transitory or persistent depends upon the European country and their different levels of labour market flexibility and types of welfare regimes, and
  • (ii) matching the skills of individuals to dynamically changing jobs is becoming a key area of concern.


Attempting to apply a ‘one-size-fits-all’ structural approach is unlikely to be effective as European countries tend to experience different forms of the mismatch problem. However, it is clear that undertaking policies and actions to reduce skills mismatch can result in sizeable efficiency gains. Tackling skills mismatches in European countries depends critically on firms adopting a long-term approach to hiring and talent management via the offer of good-quality jobs.


In the UK, a structural approach is the formation of Sector Skills Councils, which are independent, employer-led organisations which seek to build a skills system that is driven by employer demand.


In the Netherlands, the objectives of the Foundation for Cooperation on Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (SBB) focuses on labour market cooperation at national, sectoral and regional level.


In considering a structural approach or refreshing the purpose of an existing structure, the following table provides a basic foundation for reflection on the approach you and others are taking.  The Quality Progressive Overview table attached provides an opportunity for you and your stakeholders to ask and respond to probing questions.


Quality criteria

Questions for future users


There is a systematic approach for sustainable relevance of VET for labour

What methodology do you have, if any, for assessing the relevance of your VET provision to the current and future needs of the labour market?


What system do you have for regularly reviewing your VET offer?


A structural collaboration between VET and the labour market is created and maintained

How do you involve and commit employers (and/or their associations) to specify their needs and to ensure your provision is meeting them?

How do you identify and involve the most relevant stakeholders from different education and industry interest groups?


A common concept and language of jobs and VET programmes is established

VET providers: What jobs are your targeting with your VET offer?

What VET programs are corresponding with your jobs?


There are adequate occupational profiles to define quality in labour demand

How do you know that (a) employers and (b) your graduates consider the results of your VET provision relevant/up to date/good enough?


There is sufficient information/data on current and future labour market demand and VET supply

How do you get a grip on the quantity of labour demand that is needed and the amount of VET supply (required to meet it)?


There are measuring instruments for employers’ and graduates’ satisfaction to ascertain levels of craftship acquired

How do you know that (a) employers and (b) your graduates consider the results of your VET provision relevant/up to date/good enough?

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