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Skills Masthead

One of the key skill sets of plumbers is an understanding of piping and fluid dynamics. These insights are also critical in aviation. Faced with a shortage of aviation technicians, a number of companies in the UK started exploring how to recruit and reskill qualified plumbers, opening up a whole new set of career opportunities for individuals.

Recommendation 3: Increase the alignment and responsiveness between the learning ecosystem and workforce needs

  • Align curricula with workforce and industry needs, utilise multiple learning pathways and models
  • Build basic skills for the digital age
  • Enable a flexible system of lifelong learning
  • Undertake efforts to reskill workers displaced as a result of fallen industries

By developing the right skills to respond to changes in the labour market and technological change, G20 countries can drive economic growth, improve labour productivity and reduce income inequality.​

Why It Matters​

Despite global unemployment in 2013 at 201.8 million, 35 percent of 38,000 employers worldwide report difficulty filling positions due to a lack of available talent, particularly for technical skills.14

These imbalances between unemployment and job vacancies are not always due to lack of education or skills, and eventually adjust over time through market mechanisms. But they do highlight the importance of better and faster alignment between skills, education systems and employer needs, to maximise the employment opportunity for individuals.

Rapidly changing technology will continue to impact the nature and type of skills required in the future economy. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) occupations in Europe are expected to grow by 14 percent by 2020, compared to 3 percent for other occupations, however the supply of workers with education qualifications in STEM subjects is projected to fall.15

Basic skill needs will broaden and evolve from literacy and numeracy, to technology literacy, creativity, problem solving, critical thinking and resilience. Individuals must be prepared to work in an environment of continuing change, where and lifelong learning and career reinvention becomes the norm. Not all areas will require university education – apprenticeships and vocational education remain a critical element of developing sufficient technical and qualified trade skills.

A learning ecosystem that is responsive and adaptive will allow an individual to be equipped with sought after skills and to retrain throughout their lifecycle of employment. Unlocking an individual’s adaptive capacity is vital in making this shift.

Key elements such as improving current and future insight to skills and competencies, effective collaboration between education institutions and business, appropriate balance across modes within the education system (e.g. tertiary education, apprenticeships, vocational education, etc.) and investment across individuals’ employment lifespan are all elements that foster a strong learning ecosystem.

Taking Action​


Develop models that encourage collaboration between education providers and industry to identifying skills needs and designing appropriate curricula. For example:

  • Establish mechanisms to identify and forecast future skill requirements and gaps
  • Linking demonstrated collaboration to public funding
  • Provide single point, cross geographic consolidated information on course type & numbers of students compared to expected market demand.
  • Encourage business participation in teaching
  • Provide models for workplace integrated learning, such as intern/mentorships, etc.


Remove any regulatory discrimination between physical, online learning, and other models of learning. For example, develop models for accrediting providers that offer new forms of technology-enabled learning to level the playing field across tertiary institutions.


Collectively publish workforce trends and available learning pathways on learning platform to provide better information to students as well as those already in work to help them make informed choices as well as encourage progressive skill acquisition.


Engage with international organisations (OECD, IOE, ILO, World Bank, etc.) to develop a G20 Skills Strategy to define skills needed for success for the digital age and the knowledge economy.


Ensure coverage of new skills in school curricula relevant to the digital age: particularly technology/digital literacy, problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration and inter-personal communication.


Increase the transparency of skills underpinning educational qualifications, certifications and their employment relevance, e.g. by including skills description with transcripts and qualification detail; or by implementing measures to assist in recognition of prior learning and skills acquisition.


Establish targeted reskilling programs to assist adults impacted by sectoral transition such as low skilled manufacturing.


Create B2B partnerships around skill definition and skill development and training in areas of common interest to reduce cost and improve access to skills acquisition.

What Can Be Achieved​

A number of case examples illustrate what can be achieved through better targeting of desired skills, collaboration, and learning system responsiveness and approach.

India’s National Skills Development Corporation16

The National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) was established in 2009 to address India’s significant mismatch between skills demand and supply by upgrading the skills of the workforce through funding skills training and development programmes coordinated by the private sector. The PPP model is helping India overcome two of its greatest challenges in delivering VET courses – its lack of adequate infrastructure and shortage of job offers.
The NSDC has established 29 Sector Skill Councils and works with114 training partners operating in excess of 2,500 physical and mobile training centres across 352 districts in India. As of January 2014, 13.5million people have been trained, and 750,000 people are known to have been placed.

Emergence Program, Morocco17

In 2005, the Moroccan government identified the automotive industry as a priority sector to expand the country’s competitive standing in international exports, add an extra 50 billion dirhams ($5.7billion) to GDP and establish more than 220,000 jobs. Renault is partnering with the Moroccan government to develop the country’s automotive skills base. The government funded the initial capital investment and will subsidise operating costs up to 2014, after which the industry will fund the scheme. The training program will train Renault’s 6,000 employees in the Institute by 2014, and will subsequently expand its training offering to capture the 30,000 employees of Renault’s extended supply chain.

The Global Apprenticeships Network18

Agreed during the 2013 B20 Summit in St. Petersburg, business and representative industry bodies created the Global Apprenticeships Network (GAN) as a coalition of committed companies, employers’ federations and associations dedicated to promoting work-force readiness with the ultimate goal of creating job opportunities for youth and ensuring skills for business. Companies such as Telefónica, Adecco Group, UBS, Huawei, Samsung Electronics, Ericsson, Randstad and Astra International have joined forces to take action and commit to jobs for youth and skills for business.

The GAN acts to: offer apprenticeships, learnerships and internships; share best practices with other companies, employers' federations and labour administrations; improve the status of apprenticeship programmes through advocacy campaigns and promoting work-based training; provide information and capacity building on setting up national and regional networks and annually informing on GAN's impact.

To date, the GAN has nine member companies that have signed off on the GAN guiding principles. GAN National Networks are commencing in Colombia, Indonesia, Turkey, France and Morocco, where there is a focus on increasing apprenticeships, internships, traineeships and leanerships at the local level.