Education + Training

ISSN: 0040-0912

Article publication date: 30 May 2008



(2008), "International", Education + Training, Vol. 50 No. 4.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Research news From: Education + Training, Volume 50, Issue 4.

First EU forecast of skill needs: Europe

The forecast by Cedefop, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training, covers the period up to 2015. It shows that the long transition of European economies away from the primary and manufacturing sectors and towards the service sector is not yet complete. The new Member States in particular are still going through the process. But the transition is gradual: the traditional sectors still employ significant numbers of people and will continue to do so in the medium term. This is the case in all alternative scenarios explored by the forecasting exercise (from “optimistic” to “pessimistic”).

By 2015, the primary sector is expected to employ ten million workers across Europe down from 12 million in 2006 (15 million in 1996) while manufacturing will employ 34,5 million down from 35 million over the same period (38 million in 1996). But services are where the real growth is. The economy as a whole will generate more than 13 million new jobs by 2015 despite the loss of well over two million jobs in the primary sector and half a million in manufacturing. Transport and distribution, including tourism, will create 3.5 million additional jobs, while business and various services offer the best employment prospects in the medium term, generating nine million new jobs by 2015. Another three million additional jobs will be created in education, health and social work.

Even more significant in its impact than the continuing shift to the service sector, is the growing requirement of skills and qualifications at all levels. The demand for high skills has not yet peaked. Today, 80 out of 210 million European workers are in highly-skilled, non-manual jobs and this high proportion is expected to rise further. Between 2006 and 2015, Europe will gain 12.5 million additional jobs at the highest qualification level and 9.5 million at the medium level (especially vocational qualifications). But jobs for workers with low qualifications will decline by 8.5 million. Even jobs for unskilled manual workers are demanding more qualifications, while skilled manual workers will increasingly need medium-level qualifications. This has serious implications for employment. A shrinking population implies a continuing need to replace workers, even in declining sectors and occupations. But with skill requirements increasing dramatically, the new workers will need higher qualifications to perform “the same job”.

The forecasting exercise is based on a projection of current trends. To cover new developments in skills and occupations, Cedefop, with the contribution of Skillsnet its international network of researchers and policy makers for the early identification of skill needs also looks into particular fields in detail. So far Cedefop has studied tourism, nanotechnology, agri-food and wood and will soon launch reports on the health and environment sectors. In addition, it will be working on the basis of surveys to identify employers’ expectations of skill needs.

The full report is available at:

National employer survey: Australia

Hiring employees is becoming more difficult, particularly for large employers, according to a national employer survey published today by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER). Over 80 per cent of large employers those employing more than 100 people reported having some or a lot of difficulty recruiting skilled employees in the past 12 months. In 2005, 68 per cent of large employers reported they had some or a lot of difficulty in recruiting staff.

NCVER’s Survey of Employer Use and Views of the VET System set out to find the various ways employers met their skill needs. These included hiring skilled employees who already had the desired skills, employing apprentices/trainees or extra training for existing staff. It found that more than half (54 per cent) of Australian employers used the national vocational education and training (VET) system in the last year, down slightly from 57 per cent in 2005. Of all employers:

  • 33 per cent have jobs that require specific skills or vocational qualifications due to legislative, regulatory or licensing requirements;

  • 29 per cent employ apprentices or trainees; and

  • 22 per cent use nationally recognised training as a means of skilling staff because of legislative, regulatory or licensing requirements, providing specific skills required for the job or to maintain professional or industry standard.

Satisfaction with the quality of training at TAFE and other training providers remains high 88 per cent of employers were satisfied with nationally recognised training from private training providers; 85 per cent of employers were satisfied with nationally recognised training provided by TAFE as a way of meeting skill needs.

Copies of the Australian vocational education and training statistics: Employers’ use and views of the VET system 2007 Summary, are available at:

Second-chance vocational education and training: Australia

In a research report by Tom Karmel and Davinia Woods the authors examine the extent to which vocational education and training (VET) is providing individuals with a second chance in education. By “second chance” is meant opportunities in education taken by individuals who have not followed the conventional academic pathway of school completion followed by post-school study. The vocational education and training (VET) sector has a reputation for providing individuals with a “second chance”. The purpose of this report is to critically examine this perception. The approach taken is to define prospective second-chance students as early school leavers aged 24 years and below and adults aged 25 years and over who have not completed a non-school qualification. Due to the lack of longitudinal data, only an estimate of the role and impact of VET in providing individuals with a second chance in education is possible.

The findings suggest that:

  1. 1.

    The reputation of the VET sector as the “second chance” sector is fully justified:

    • the percentage of VET students who can be characterised as second chance is very substantial second-chance students represented 41 per cent of the VET student population in 2004; and

    • the percentage of the eligible second-chance population who undertakes VET is also very substantial around 50 per cent of early school leavers and the vast majority of eligible adults over the age of 25 years participates in second-chance VET.

  2. 2.

    Despite the fact that VET provides this opportunity to many prospective second-chance students, the percentage of second-chance students leaving the sector with a qualification is low. The percentage is particularly low when restricted to certificate III or higher VET qualifications:

    • just over 10 per cent of early school leavers complete a certificate III or higher VET qualification within four years of leaving school;

    • 10 to 30 per cent (Second Chance Vocational Education and Training; Tom Karmel and Davinia Woods, January, 2008) of adults eligible for a second chance in education will complete a certificate III or higher VET qualification (at least up to the age of 49 years).

Entrepreneurship: USA

A new report released this month by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation fills a gap in the study of entrepreneurship. As the largest longitudinal study of new businesses ever conducted, the Kauffman Firm Survey (KFS) follows nearly 5,000 businesses founded in 2004 and tracks them over their early years of operation. Understanding the characteristics of new business formation and sustainability can help lead to policies that encourage entrepreneurial businesses, which are a major driver of economic growth.

The most common industry sectors are professional, management, and educational services; retail trade; administrative, support, waste management, and remediation services; and construction. More than one-third of businesses (37 percent) had no revenue in their first year of operation. About 45 percent of businesses experienced a profit during their first year, compared with about 55 percent of businesses that experienced a loss in their first year. Nearly 44 percent of new businesses had no debt financing during their first year of operation. Many businesses were started with very little debt financing 17 percent started with $5,000 or less; nearly 11 percent started with $100,000 or more.

Nearly 60 percent of the businesses had no employees in their first year. Just under three quarters of businesses had one employee or less, while about one-quarter of businesses had two or more employees. Very few businesses (less than 4 percent) had more than ten employees. Men were the primary owners of nearly 70 percent of businesses in the KFS population. Whites were the primary owners of more than 81 percent of the businesses, blacks were the primary owners of 9 percent, Asians were the primary owners of 4 percent. About 63 percent of the primary business owners were between 35 and 54 years old. A smaller share was younger than 35 years old (19 percent), while the oldest category (age 55 and older) made up about 18 percent of businesses. Nearly a quarter of the primary business owners had some level of post-college education. About 24 percent were college graduates and about 30 percent had some college or an associate’s degree. About 15 percent had a high school education or less, and the remaining 6.7 percent had some type of technical, trade, or vocational degree.

The Kaufman Firm Survey is available at:

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