Summary

The Netherlands has a long held tradition of using detailed economic analysis in policy making. In line with this, the country has conducted systematic skills anticipation exercises in some form or other for more than 60 years. Currently it undertakes:

  • Skills assessments, reviewing past trends at national and sectoral levels and assessing how various drivers of change will affect future skills demand;
  • Skill forecasts, combined with other data to provide input into skills assessments;
  • Skills foresight analysis, undertaken on an ad hoc basis to review particular aspects of future skill demand; and
  • Surveys of school leavers, which among other things, aim at measuring the relevance of current educational qualifications to the needs of the labour market.

The general tendency in the Netherlands has been towards a decentralised system where national skills assessments are augmented by independently conducted sectoral analysis.

The results of skills anticipation exercises are used extensively by policymakers as well as relevant stakeholders. The information is especially influential in shaping educational policy, where many programmes and curricula are modified or created with the intent of satisfying the future needs of the labour market. Moreover, stakeholders and social partners play an active part in developing these policies and programmes. At a local level, authorities regularly work with businesses and other stakeholders to formulate policies that respond to projected trends and developments within the labour market.

 

Please cite this document as: Cedefop (2017). Skills anticipation in Netherlands. Skills Panorama Analytical Highlights. https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/analytical_highlights/skills-anticipation-netherlands

Overview of the Dutch approach

Skills Anticipation in the Netherlands

Description

The Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (Researchcentrum voor onderwijs en arbeidsmarkt, ROA), a research institute at Maastricht University, is responsible for conducting and publishing bi-annual general labour market forecasts. This six-year outlook is prepared under the Project Education and Labour Market (Project Onderwijs en Arbeidsmarkt, POA), which is funded by several national ministries, public sector organisations, and a private human resource consulting firm.

In addition, the ROA conducts regular surveys to monitor school-leavers and analyse their first steps into the labour market. The Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen, UWV) studies labour trends and conducts analyses using data from Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, CBS), their own datasets collected from individuals seeking unemployment benefits, as well as the ROA labour market forecasts. UWV publishes a short-term two-year labour market forecast at sectoral, regional and national level to facilitate transparency and enable a better match between employers and job seekers. (1) CBS not only provides data on the labour market but also publishes its own reports and analyses of historical data. Finally, the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (Centraal Planbureau, CPB) periodically publishes short and medium term economic forecasts, which include information on the labour market (employment, labour supply, and unemployment) (2) as well as detailed reports on topics related to skills and skills mismatch.

In the Netherlands, there is also a tradition of forecasting within specific sectors. These forecasts are usually short-term but still provide a detailed view of trends and developments within these sectors. The recently established Cooperative for Vocational Education, Training and the Labour Market (Samenwerkingsorganisatie Beroepsonderwijs Bedrijfsleven, SBB) collects information on demand for, and supply of, skills in labour markets for intermediate vocational education. These data also incorporate the ROA forecasts. There is close cooperation between SBB, ROA, and UWV. Many sectoral level organisations also publish facts and figures for the benefit of their members as well as others. One example of these exercises is the analysis ROA conducts on the Dutch metalworking and electrical engineering sectors at the request of Stichting A+O Metalektro. (3) Using CBS data, the research consultancy ABF has developed an information system (HERMES) for analysing labour supply and demand in several sectors.

Aims

Skills anticipation in the Netherlands seeks to provide labour market stakeholders with information on possible skills mismatches so that the market can proactively establish policies to avoid them. In addition, skills anticipation aims to answer more specific questions, such as how to attract personnel into various occupations or whether any occupations may become redundant within certain sectors or industries.

The overall approach to and activities of skills anticipation is also intended to inform policymakers within the education system, so that  they design programmes and qualifications that are as relevant as possible to the needs of the Dutch labour market. The information generated by skills anticipation exercises is therefore to be used on a regular basis to review curricula and decide if new types of training or educational programmes should be offered.

No information is available on the regulatory framework underpinning skills anticipation in the Netherlands. The SBB has a legal mandate to provide information to intermediate vocational education institutions and to businesses about the labour market, professional development and the effectiveness of the education system’s output.

Since 2013 the Sustainable Public Finances Act (Wet Houdbare Overheidsfinanciën) prescribes CPB forecasts as the official basis for the central government’s annual fiscal budget. (4)

Governance

Skills anticipation is the responsibility of the following ministries:

The OCW takes a leading role, although SZW is also active. Together the two ministries are also responsible for ensuring there is a match between the education provided in the Netherlands and the qualifications needed in the labour market. The SBB is subordinate to the OCW, and advises the ministers for OCW and for EZ about the match between the vocational education and training (VET) system in the Netherlands and the labour market. The UWV is subordinate to SZW.

The CPB is subordinate to the EZ but the institution is mostly independent, being completely autonomous in its choice of projects. The role of the ministry in regard to the institution is thus relegated to appointing the director and providing its budget.

The role of stakeholders

The main stakeholders are employers, trade associations, and education and training institutions. These stakeholders all serve to some extent to augment the outputs of the system by providing comments and, in some cases, additional data. Many sectors produce their own skills assessment, most of which are usually commissioned by stakeholders within them. These analyses are used by the national ones offering more detailed insights in each individual sector.

At the national level, stakeholders are usually involved in policy making in some way, for example by being consulted on new laws or regulations. In addition, the SBB also hosts sector-specific knowledge centres (Kenniscentra), which provide input and commentary on new laws and regulations. There are also various other projects or workshops that involve stakeholders conducted on an ad hoc basis. (5) One example, cited by the ROA, is the Techniekpact project, which is an ongoing collaboration between three ministries (OCW, SZW, and EZ) and a large number of regional and sectoral stakeholders. The project aims to support and increase education within the science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) fields in response to projections of a large shortages in these areas over the coming decade.

At the regional level, the most important contacts are between the various VET institutes (which are members of the SBB) and various smaller and medium sized local businesses. These institutions and businesses work closely together, both in designing solutions to cope with foreseeable skills mismatches as well as in developing new policy responses.

In Dutch politics, there is a long-held tradition of trying to reach a consensus between all related parties and stakeholders. As such, the relevant stakeholders are usually included in some form in the creation of policies that affect them. In addition, the Netherlands also has a long tradition of producing sectoral skills projections. These exercises are usually conducted or commissioned by stakeholders within each sector, either by individual organisations or consortia of the most relevant players within the industry. Such sectoral analyses serve to augment the more general assessments of the ROA, the UWV, the CBS and the CPB by offering a more detailed look at these specific sectors. Additionally, the presence of sectoral projections greatly increases the dissemination of information since the entities that undertake these studies usually have very close ties to the labour market within each sector.

Target groups

Young people and jobseekers are the main target groups who will benefit from the information provided by skills anticipation, as they will be able to base their educational choices on labour market information. In particular, the general labour market prognoses published under the POA explicitly aim to inform students about labour market prospects in their studies or career choices, and education institutes about the relevance of their programmes to the labour market. (6) It is also intended for employers, who can use the data to proactively respond to any possible trends or mismatches in the market. Furthermore, different groups of policymakers can also benefit from additional information on the labour market when making decisions on which education or training programmes to establish, abolish or amend.

Funding and resources

The POA is funded by the OCW, the SZW, the BZK, the EZ, Randstad Nederland (a human resource consultancy firm), and the SBB. The ROA’s sectoral research on the metalworking and electrical engineering sector however, is fully funded by the trade association, A+O Metalektro Foundation.

The UWV is financed by the SZW and the SBB by the OCW. Both the CBS and the CPB are funded by EZ.

As for other sector specific exercises, they are usually funded by stakeholders within each sector.

Methods and tools

There are various tools used in undertaking skills anticipation in the Netherlands.

Skills assessment

Both the ROA and the UWV produce regular forecasts of skill demand by using occupation and qualification as proxy measures of skill. These are integrated with other data to provide a well-rounded assessment of labour market developments. Accordingly they have been classified as skills assessments, given their broader methodological approach, rather than solely as a forecast.

Skills forecasts

Initiated by the ROA, the POA commenced its activities in 1986 with the aim to analyse trends and developments in the Dutch labour market. The main objective of the skills forecasting activities was to produce an independent, scientifically robust, econometric forecast model that would allow stakeholders (employers, employees, sector associations, and education institutions) to anticipate trends in skills supply and demand and their potential mismatch. Today, the POA produces a general labour market forecast every second year, which makes projections over six years into the future. It differentiates between 35 labour market regions, 21 economic sectors, 114 occupations, and 97 types of qualifications. The forecasts are made using a variety of econometric models as well as data on demographics and labour markets obtained from the CBS and the CPB. The main outputs of these assessments are early warning indicators of possible imbalances between supply and demand in the labour market. These indicators, as well as other information produced by the exercises, are fed into the Labour Market Information System (Arbeidsmarktinformatiesysteem, AIS) online database. The detailed information in this labour market information system is freely accessible for the funders of the POA and is delivered to stakeholders. The project produces reports on specific topics, technical reports (for example on the methods used for the forecasts), and a biannual report on the labour market forecasts. The biannual reports are part of a series called Labour Market by Education and Occupation to [year] (De arbeidsmarkt naar opleiding en beroep tot [jaar]). (7) The most recent version of this publication includes forecasts to 2020.

The UWV cooperates closely with the ROA, but also performs an assessment on its own. The agency studies labour market trends using both the statistics produced by CBS as well as data it collects by itself. It produces a projection for the coming year, which is published yearly in the Labour Market Forecast (Arbeidsmarktprognose) series of publications. (8) These projections are for the overall labour market as well as for individual sectors. They are based on models which consider several factors, such as the demographic projections from the CBS, the macroeconomic projections published by the CPB, migration trends, and possible productivity changes. Recently, there has also been more of an emphasis on regional projections; the latest publications containing detailed analysis of labour markets by region. The UWV also hosts a website where most of its labour market information can be found.

CBS periodically produces in-depth articles on current developments in the labour market. In addition, it uses the data it collects in a labour market tension meter. This is based on available vacancies and the number of unemployed people. It also publishes a series of regular reports called Dynamics of the Dutch Labour Market (Dynamiek op de Nederlandse arbeidsmarkt), which provide a snapshot of the current state of the market. (9)

In addition to the above there are also several smaller projects and exercises, most of which are limited to specific sectors or occupations. These are usually conducted by relevant stakeholders within the sector, such as trade unions or employers’ confederations. Again, the ROA’s project on behalf of Stichting A+O Metalektro, called Labour Market Monitor Metalelektro (Arbeidsmarktmonitor Metalelektro), provides an example. The A+O Metalektro Foundation is a large bipartisan consortium of stakeholders within the metal and electrical engineering sector.

Skills foresight

Since 1945, the CPB has had free rein to conduct research and issue recommendations on all aspects of the Dutch economy. The agency occasionally directs its attention to specific issues regarding skills mismatch and anticipation. The results of this research are usually in the form of research reports published on the agency’s website. (10) The agency will also typically offer some assessment of the possible policy choices or lessons which can be drawn from its analysis.

The Sociaal Economische Raad (Social Economic Council, SER) – one of parliament’s and the government’s main advisory bodies on socio-economic policy – has produced a number of prospective studies focusing on the labour market and the future of education. For instance, in 2015, the SER committee responsible for labour market and education issues investigated the future of learning in a changing labour market. (11) Furthermore, the SER initiated Platform 2032, which facilitated a national dialogue and analytical exploration of the future of education in the Netherlands. (12)

Other skills anticipation practices

In addition to its skills assessment activities, the ROA has also conducted surveys amongst school leavers since the early 1990s. These surveys (Schoolverlatersonderzoeken) are sent to a large number of school leavers, both those leaving without qualifications and those leaving with them. For example, since 1990 the ROA has conducted the HBO-Monitor, commissioned by the Council for higher vocational education institutions (HBO Raad). (13) These surveys facilitate an assessment of how recent graduates of the education system progress in the job market, whether they find jobs, and whether these jobs are in line with their qualifications. The surveys are standardised, which ensures comparability between years and allows the results to be used in policy making. They are used as a tool to track to what extent qualifications match the needs of the labour market. Using CBS microdata, research consultancy ABF has developed an information system (HERMES) for labour supply and demand in several sectors. The information system is used by various sectoral associations to provide statistics and forecasts at sector level. The HERMES model was developed in 2009 and specifies the demand and supply for labour for specific segments on the labour market for the period 2007 to 2030. Data can be disaggregated by sector, region, demographic, and occupational characteristics. The information system is targeted at businesses, sector associations, and research institutions.

Dissemination and use

Use of skills anticipation in policy

The SZW and the OCW actively make use of, and discuss between them, the information generated by the skills anticipation exercises. Thus, the results usually play a large role in defining national policy, especially for educational policies. (14) The funders of the POA use the labour market information and forecasts in dissemination to broader audiences, for example: through the SBB’s website and UWV’s publications ‘Kansrijkeberoepen’ and ‘Regio in beeld’. ROA reports that, based on the information in the AIS, it provides targeted input to a range of research institutions for academic studies and analyses. (15) In addition, the information generated by the exercises is also used by regional governments in formulating local policies.

Target groups’ uses of skills anticipation outputs

Employers’ associations, trade unions, and other sectoral organisations review the information generated by the skills anticipation exercises and disseminate them amongst their members. In this way, both businesses as well as employees can react to foreseeable changes within labour markets and hopefully reduce the negative impacts of any future skills mismatch.

Students and those looking to further their careers also make use of the information. In particular, the forecasts produced by the POA are being used by publications that help students in their study or career choice. These study guides (MBO, HBO and WO Keuzegidsen and Studiekeuze123) are important sources of independent information about career prospects available to future students. (16)

Career counsellors can use the publicly available information to help guide individuals into various job roles or education programmes. (17) Many educational institutions also use the results to monitor the effectiveness of their curriculum and will amend programmes or offer new ones to reflect the projections. In this regard, the school leaver surveys conducted by the ROA are an important source of information.

 

Please cite this document as: Skills Panorama (2017), Skills anticipation in Netherlands. Analytical highlights series. Available at /en/analytical_highlights/skills-anticipation-netherlands

 

 

 

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Endnotes

(1) The most recent version of this publication, as of  18 November 2016, can be accessed at: http://www.uwv.nl/overuwv/Images/Arbeidsmarktprognoses%202016-2017_def.pdf

(2) CPB Economische beleidsanalyse. N.d.(a). Arbeidsmarkt. As of 18 November 2016: https://www.cpb.nl/onderwerp/arbeidsmarkt#ramingen

(3) For an overview of this project and a list of related publications see: http://roa.sbe.maastrichtuniversity.nl/?portfolio=arbeidsmarktmonitor-metalektro

(4) CPB Economische beleidsanalyse. N.d.(a). Wat doet het CPB. As if 18 November 2016: https://www.cpb.nl/wat-doet-het-cpb

(5) Fouarge, D. 2014.

(6) Bijlsma, I., Cörvers, F., Dijksman, S., Fouarge, D., Künn-Nelen A., & Poulissen, D. 2016.  Methodiek arbeidsmarktprognoses en -indicatoren 2015-2020. ROA-TR-2016/4. As of 18 November 2016: http://roastatistics.maastrichtuniversity.nl/AISOpenaccess/pdf/ROA_TR_2016_4.pdf

(7) The most recent version of this report, as of writing, can be accessed at http://roa.sbe.maastrichtuniversity.nl/roanew/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/ROA_R_2015_6.pdf

(8) The most recent version of this publication, as of writing, can be accessed at http://www.uwv.nl/overuwv/Images/Arbeidsmarktprognoses%202016-2017_def.pdf

(9) The most recent verion of this publication, as of writing, can be accessed at https://www.cbs.nl/-/media/imported/documents/2015/18/2015-dynamiek-op-de-nederlandse-arbeidsmarkt-pub.pdf?la=nl-nl

(10) For two recent samples of such reports see Mismatch on the Dutch Labour Market in the Great Recession, accessed at https://www.cpb.nl/sites/default/files/publicaties/download/cpb-discussion-paper-303-mismatch-dutch-labour-market-great-recession.pdf and Taken en vaardigheden in beeld: De Nederlandse arbeidsmarkt in taken, Accessed at: https://www.cpb.nl/sites/default/files/publicaties/download/cpb-boek-8-de-nederlandse-arbeidsmarkt-taken-eerste-bevindingen-uit-de-nederlandse-skills-survey.pdf

(11) Agenda Skills en Leren (2015) Letter to the chairman of the Social Economic Council. http://www.ser.nl/~/media/files/internet/adviesaanvragen/2015/agenda-skills-en-leren.ashx [as of 18 November 2016]

(12) See: Onderwijs 2032 website. As of 18 November 2016: http://onsonderwijs2032.nl

(13) See: HBO Monitor website. 2016. As of 18 November: www.hbomonitor.nl

(14) Fouarge, D. 2014. Project Onderwijs-Arbeidsmarkt: Gebruik van arbeidsmarktinformatieen impact Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market. Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. As of 18 November 2016: http://roa.sbe.maastrichtuniversity.nl/roanew/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Valorisatie_en_impact_POA.pdf

(15) Fouarge, D. 2014.

(16) Fouarge, D. 2014.

(17) Borghans, L.,, Golsteyn, B. H. H., & Stenberg A. 2013. Does Expert Advice Improve Educational Choice? IZA Discussion Paper (7649), 1–65. As of 21 February: http://ftp.iza.org/dp7649.pdf