Working with employers on training
The PES and employers are brought together mainly in advisory bodies such as the Council for HRD and working groups. Large employers are closely monitored by the PES, especially since employers are no longer obliged to notify the employment service of vacancies which now requires the PES to develop better relations with employers.
Box 3.4. UNIV 2 Regions Project, 2009 2013
The UNIV 2 Regions Project was designed to help secondary schools become centres for lifelong learning that not only teach students in initial training, but also offer various forms of continuing education for adults. UNIV stands for the recognition of non-formal and informal learning in networks of schools providing education for adults. The project was desiged for the period 2009 - 2013. The project involved schools from all Czech regions (excluding Prague) which organized in a network. 13 networks were set up in total, acting in cooperation with Regional Authorities. The project has two specific objectives:
- • Create and develop a network of schools that meet the concept of lifelong learning.
- • Increase opportunities for continuing education in secondary schools involved in the
The project seeks to gradually transform the secondary schools involved into lifelong learning centres. This requires a change in approach in school management and new ways of working with clients to enhance cooperation with employers. The aim is to develop/ upgrade the professional competences of the 3 250 teachers involved in the project.
975 modular programmes have been set up, with 325 of them piloted. These programmes respond to current regional labour market needs and the educational needs of individuals or at risk groups. The programme has raised awareness of the importance of continuing education opportunities and increasing individuals' motivation to engage in continuous learning. One of the main aims of the project has been to engage more with relevant employers and other actors in the labour market to prepare and evaluate the programmes on offer.
Source: UNIV2 (2012), About the UNIV2 Project website, www.nuov.cz/univ2k/projekt, accessed September 2013.
In both regions, VET organisations communicate with business regularly if their clients come from the private sector and less so if they provide training mainly for the PES. Employer engagement with schools differs according to the field of education. For example, the Technical Secondary School in Most - Velebudice in the Osti nad Labem region has developed close links with local employers and employers are interested in engaging in order to influence school educational programmes to meet better their needs. Large employers cooperate with many schools in the region and sponsor some educational activities, such as the Smart Heads for the North Grant programme of the Czech Coal Company - see Box 3.5. General secondary institutions (gymnazia) tend to have less contact with local businesses.
Training is generally aligned to the demand of employers through sector councils which define labour market needs for the National Register of Vocational Qualifications, which should be reflected in educational programmes. Sector councils were established as employer representation bodies in 2006 in particular fields, and the number of councils is expanding - currently at 29. They are made up of employer representatives, training institutions and relevant ministries also have a seat at the table. In their current role, they develop up-to-date occupational profiles (for jobs defined in the National System of Occupations) that become the basis for changes in school programmes. They also develop sectoral labour market strategies to deal with major skills mismatches by Sector Skills Agreements. They are required to carry out annual skill needs analysis of the labour market in particular sectors and are regarded as a good example of co-operation between social partners and policy makers (Kuczera, 2010).
Box 3.5. Smart Heads for the North programme, Ustf nad Labem
The Smart Heads for the North programme is a Corporate Social Responsibility activity of the Czech Coal Group designed to promote education in the Usti nad Labem region. It was introduced in 2010. Every year Vrsanska coal (a member of the Czech Coal Group) announces a grant programme which is aimed at improving facilities for teaching staff and students in schools in the Most region.
Preselected projects that most closely meet the criteria for support are published in local newspapers and on websites. The public can vote online and by phone for their preferred schools to improve their ranking. Winners in two categories are announced (elementary/ secondary schools and universities) and they receive a grant to finance their projects. Based on Facebook votes a special prize is awarded to interesting projects.
Source: Vrsanka Uhelna (2013), Smart Heads for the North programme website (Chytre Hlauy pro Sever 2013), www.chytrehlauy.cz, accessed September 2013; Czech Coal Group (2013), Czech Coal website, www.czechcoal.cz, accessed September 2013.
Nonetheless, employers reported that training curricula do not sufficiently meet their needs. A relatively small percentage of payroll is invested in training and skills development by employers and it is thought that SMEs invest less than large firms. National survey data shows that total expenditure on training to the average salary was 0.5% in the Usti nad Labem region and 0.6% in the South-Moravian region in 2010 (DV Monitor, 2013; ISPV, 2010).
The Ministry of Labour is trying to better respond to the current needs of each region and local labour offices have been instructed to engage more actively with employers and to discuss the alignment of re-training programmes according to their needs. The Get Trained for Growth! programme allows employers to subcontract customised training under some conditions and the Ministry of Labour recently announced that support conditions from this programme would be extended to cover more employers.
SMEs face more barriers to training their employees and this has been well identified in strategic documents in both regions and various SME support initiatives have been developed. National projects, such as Get Trained for Growth, are aimed at up-skilling employees in SMEs in a number of sectors. In Usti nad Labem, although there are no specific skill development schemes for SMEs, employer subsidy programmes are targeted at them and many ESF funded grant schemes can be used by SMEs for skills development.
In the South-Moravian region, there are various initiatives that support SME skills development to expand innovation potential and the need for this is identified in the regional Strategy for HRD. Employer associations, such as the Chambers of Commerce, run EU funded projects which are aimed at supporting and developing SMEs and include a focus on human resources elements. In addition, larger companies sometimes also assist SMEs in developing their management and employee skills by organising specialised seminars and conferences for clients and suppliers. This was done by the Czech Coal Company in Usti nad Labem.
Investment incentives are offered to employers to support the creation of new jobs, retraining or training new employees in areas blighted by high unemployment and are especially designed for large employers. Incentives include reducing payroll taxes, providing building infrastructure to attract inward investment, and providing housing for employees for the construction of a company site.