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Field: Infrastruktur & kompetensförsörjning

How can the government facilitate the future supply of skills to the business community?

Human capital and education are regarded as being fundamental for the long-term development and growth of economies. The opportunity to return to various forms of publicly funded education to meet changing skills needs is part of society's ability to adapt. Learning that takes place on a more continuous basis, through shorter courses and staff training within companies, is also an important means for meeting the needs of a changing labour market.
The purpose of the study is to gain a better understanding of how the state can facilitate skills development and learning to meet the skills needs in companies. The conclusions of our studies are cross-sectoral, partly against the backdrop of the Government’s desire for co-operation between policy areas and actors to respond to different skills challenges. In summary, subsequent to the project we make the conclusions below, which from a range of perspectives all touch upon how policy instruments targeted at skills adaptation can ease the skills needs of the private sector.

Continued investment in higher vocational education is justified

Our analyses of higher vocational education show that, socio-economically, this is a successful and profitable form of education. Salaries and labour market outcomes are positively affected by participation in this type of education. This is true for both younger course participants (19–29 years) and older adults (30–54 years). Participants also demonstrate greater mobility in the labour market. Our evaluation of higher vocational education supports continued investment in this form of education.

Unclear whether outcomes are driven by staff training or other learning

Empirical studies appear to have a hard time clearly distinguishing between what it is that drives the positive outcomes of staff training. In other words, is it the staff training in and of itself, or the practical on-the-job learning that takes place as work is performed? For example, individuals with good learning abilities may be more likely to participate in education.
In practice, work and knowledge-flows within companies affect learning, and in theory may generate significant outcomes over time, both in terms of learning and productivity. Due to the heterogeneity of companies, research is careful in the conclusions it makes regarding how companies can best organise their skills.

Evaluations of the economic incentives for companies are lacking

Due to the limited knowledge base about the effects of different incentives companies receive for staff training, justification for such incentives cannot be supported by existing empirical research. This applies for instance to company tax deductions for investments in training (not to other deductions available for recruitment, such as for R&D personnel). Evaluations are lacking even in countries where such systems exist.

Special initiatives should be needs-based and start with companies’ existing networks

Prior experience shows there are several challenges associated with supporting companies directly with their skills needs. Involving companies is time-consuming, complex and knowledge-intensive. Organisational change is hard to achieve and furthermore, hard to evaluate. Based on experience from previous initiatives, the state should hold back on more direct support for individual companies. The state should instead draw on the existing networks of companies, base efforts on the needs of companies and focus on the more general shortage of information in companies.

The state should focus on the shortage of information within companies

According to research, there are positive effects on productivity when companies are more strategic in how they organise their work regarding skills needs. However, what is deemed “strategic” depends on the company’s business and area of specialisation. One conclusion is that policy formulation needs to take into account the information needs of companies. Special initiatives should focus on general information and how skills can be organised and developed. The state should also focus on addressing information shortcomings, for instance within the scope of digital structures that aim to create better awareness of opportunities for education and the range of education on offer.

Knowledge gaps identified

We have identified several knowledge gaps during the course of our studies. Research into how skills supply processes should be understood predominantly focuses on larger companies. The lack of knowledge about how companies work with their skills needs, which has become more pertinent in our more knowledge-intensive economy, is a substantial barrier to policy formulation in the area. Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to rapid progress regarding more flexible working and new ways to organise skills.

How can the government facilitate the future supply of skills to the business community?

Download the report in Swedish Pdf, 1.3 MB.



4 of 4 partial studies has been published


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