Anticipation of changing skills needs is high on the political agenda in most developed countries. This has been given new impetus by the problems caused by the financial crisis in 2008 and subsequent worldwide recession and continuing uncertainty about economic and labour market prospects.
The Warwick Institute for Employment Research (IER) has been at the leading edge of research in this area since it was established in 1981. This has included responsibility for nearly all of the major assessments for central government conducted in the UK, including the current Working Futures series, as well as path breaking work at a pan-European level as part of the European Commission’s New Skills for New Jobs agenda.
IER are hosting an International Symposium in late September to explore the technical and other issues involved in carrying out such work. High profile speakers from Australia, Canada, France, Germany and the USA will make this a unique opportunity to hear about such work across the globe. Participation is by invitation only and limited. However, there are still a few places available for those with a strong interest.
There is no fee to attend the Symposium (which will include refreshments, lunch, and attendance at the conference dinner), but delegates will have to pay for their accommodation.
Aims and Objectives
High level technical exchange, trying to learn methodological and other lessons from other countries.
The event will focus on an international comparison of approaches to labour market assessment and skills forecasting, with inputs from those with hands-on experience, and who can speak authoritatively (and critically) about the strengths and weakness of the various approaches adopted across the world, and the lessons they have learned over the past 20 years.
Agenda and mode of working
Participants will table in advance material describing their approaches and results. This will be made available to all participants and others via the internet as part of the Warwick Institute for Employment Research’s (IER) website.
Six keynote speakers will make brief formal presentations under three broad headings. Each presentation will be 20 minutes maximum, followed by general open discussion. Three rapporteurs will sum up the discussion in each session and to offer their own thoughts on the key lessons for forecasters, looking forward.
All participants are invited to highlight any novelty in their own approaches (including dissemination and cooperation, as well as more technical issues related to new data, concepts, methods or analysis), that could be considered worth trying out in other countries.
The three broad groups of topics to be covered will be as follows
- Session 1: Rationale for such work; Problems and pitfalls, strengths and weaknesses of current approaches; How the results are used; Costs of such work & how it is funded;
- Session 2: Detailed methodological discussion; Technical lessons learned; Innovative approaches.
- Session 3: Evaluation and assessment; Key messages from the latest / most recent results; Emerging issues and challenges (recovery from the crisis, green jobs, generic skills)
The agenda can be found here.
A number of papers will be developed by the keynote speakers based on their presentations, although (as indicated above) they and other participants are also invited to table existing papers and reports in advance of the event, so that everyone can see what everyone else is up to. Discussions have also been taking place with the editors of a good academic journal about a special issue on this topic. A selection of contributions which demonstrate the appropriate level of technical and intellectual rigour will be collated to together for submission.
There will also be a more informal, “open space” session on the Friday morning for those able to stay on longer.
This will be an opportunity to bring together colleagues involved in European forecasting as part of the on-going Cedefop project, as well as drawing in people from other European Institutes, to discuss matters of common interest. The main idea would be to exploit the fact that we are all together in one place, (although not everyone will be able to stay on).
There is no set agenda for this session. Participants will be invited to suggest topics they would like to discuss under the general heading of “Employment and Skills Forecasting”. Discussion will then take place in small groups, with participants joining in on discussions that are interested in and feel able to contribute to. An informal reporting back to a plenary session will take place at the end of the morning.
Topics for discussion might include:
- Detailed methodological issues;
- Topical issues in skills forecasting such as “green jobs” or the rising importance of generic skills;
- Follow up activities of various kinds (for example setting up an on-going forum and developing mechanism for ideas exchange and training in different approaches and techniques).
One possibility is the establishment of a continuing International Forum on Skills Forecasting to maintain the momentum set up by the Symposium, with the possibility of further events in other locations in the future. This might include both high level exchange between peers, as well as offering training and other support for those just starting out on such work.
The IER will host a conference dinner at the conference venue for all participants on the Thursday evening.
Date: Thursday 29 September 2011 (plus opportunity to attend continuation event on 30 September)
Participants: Around 30- 40 participants, actively involved in skills/employment forecasting in their respective countries