28 September 2023

Skills Supply Project in Focus: Development of a Concept for a New Tool Underway

A collaborative project involving multiple government agencies and in consultation with industry organisations has been granted to map out and continue working on job descriptions of employers' needs and requirements given guidance, recruitment, validation, and matching across the entire labour market. Among the project's goal is contributing to Sweden's skills supply and promote lifelong learning.

On September 7th, 2023, an event was held with participants from various industry organisations, educational providers, career transition organisations, and the government agencies involved in the joint government assignment to develop a coherent data infrastructure for skills supply and lifelong learning (N2021/01915 in Swedish). Representatives from the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR), the Job Security Council (TRR), Luleå University of Technology (LTU), and numerous industry validation organizations among others with a history of involvement in topics concerning employers’ needs and requirements and industry validation, gathered at the event to exchange insights, address challenges, and discuss the work in progress. The event was hosted by the Jobtech Unit at the Swedish Public Employment Service, which is managing the Jobtech Development platform, together with the project manager Fredrik Ribbing.

The project continues to explore and expand upon insights gained from both the abovementioned government assignment and the Semantics Project (a project, part of an inter-agency collaboration aimed at exploring the conditions for common source of concepts and translation keys as a shared repository). The project's objective is to develop a tool designed to support the work required to describe common job and skill profiles and to get a more comprehensive understanding of workforce competency requirements. The level of granularity necessary to meet various objectives, including forecasting, validation, matching, career guidance, and educational design, are an important aspect.

The tool considers the relationship between job tasks (profession/describing what one does) to learning outcomes (workforce/describing what one needs to know).

"As part of a data infrastructure, the tool facilitates employers' work in developing and distributing descriptions of competence requirements in a way that is beneficial to users. Sometimes, a combination of both human and technical finesse is required to effectively convey information to a context that is not familiar to the original context where local dialects and details thrive and grow.," says Fredrik Ribbing.

Key questions and insights:

  • Legitimacy – ensuring quality of data and content
  • Clarity
  • Accessibility – the tool’s output and input should not be dependent on each other, but rather enable the data processing as one sentence at a time
  • Collaboration and Continuity
  • User Engagement – greater user participation and data available for more profound and varied analysis and monitoring
  • User-friendliness, Reusability, and Credibility - the tool should be usable by the entire labour market
  • Long-term Management Model

A Tool Which is Easy to Use and Illustrates a Systematic Approach

During a panel discussion together with Johan Nordberg from the Swedish Industry-Technology BAS (in Swedish: Industriteknik BAS - Svensk industrivalidering) and Kerstin Eriksson from the Analysis Department at the Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen), a thorough conversation took place regarding the potential benefits, challenges, and opportunities of the digital tool within the project. Johan Nordberg shared best practices related to the validation of various professions.

The tool can be helpful in documenting work tasks and the necessary preparations while excluding unnecessary details, providing a comprehensive view of skill requirements, and identifying areas where additional skills might be needed across various industries. For example, there exists a distinction between working as an operator in the manufacturing industry versus the pharmaceutical one. The tool can potentially assist in clarifying and sharing the specifics of this difference.

International Panel: Skills Development Supporting Fair Mobility in a Digital EU Labour Market

During the international panel, insights and knowhow have been highlighted, drawing from experiences in the same domain in Flanders, Belgium, Germany, as well as the EU Commission's efforts concerning ESCO. Representatives from ESCO, the EU Commission, OECD, and the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit (BA), the German counterpart to the Public Employment Service) shared their expertise in competency-related matters in the context of transitions within the labour market. It was emphasized the significance of validating skills and work experience as a means to navigate a rapidly evolving global job market. Additionally, the discussion highlighted questions about advancing digital semantic infrastructure to support fair mobility within the EU labor market and effectively addressing the challenges posed by AI, all while making the most of the opportunities it entails.

At Glance: Questions and Answers about the Tool

What's new with the tool is that it aims to systematically build a database. In this current phase, the project’s primary focus is on conceptual development. During the development phase, access will be restricted initially to industry organizations for updating with description of their needs, ensuring legitimacy. Furthermore, the tool is designed to provide support to those who

enter the information

  • allow variation
  • guide towards standards which are usable
  • reuse previously entered descriptions

    facilitate revising by
  • enhance transparency of status/credibility

    facilitate data retrieval
  • give industry organisations control over others' authorization to access content/descriptions

What are the primary issues that the tool aims to address and solve?

Translation key:

  • when the connection between broad categories, e.g., the matching indicator between the Swedish Standard Classification of Occupations (SSYK) SSYK and Swedish Education Nomenclature (SUN), is insufficient, and
  • the "word-of-mouth" method (to convey understanding through context and follow-up questions) is time consuming and results duplicated efforts.

Target Groups: Who Demands the Tool?

It is applicable in many contexts where there is a need for employers' descriptions to provide their competency requirements, for example:

  • Policy Development
  • Micro-credentials
  • Career Transition
  • Industry Validation
  • Processes involving designing of vocational trainings
  • Analysis of Labour Market Demands

What are the potential risks?

  • Challenges related to data quality that can lead to inaccurate guidance for individuals, extended job search period, inconsistent forecasts, and analyses
  • Consequences on data quality, utilization, and societal benefits when certain industries do not join
  • Higher demands beyond what is necessary
  • Balancing the level of requirements

Next Steps

Currently, the project is collecting insights and preparing for the development phase. This involves creating new, desired state in the handover and project documents to the government authorities as part of the government assignment.