Work with employers on skills utilisation and productivity

Sustainable employment and skills utilisation

Skills utilisation approaches look at how the workforce is structured and the relationship between an individual’s skills and the needs of business. They focus on how well employers are utilising the skills of their employees, which can improve productivity and profitability. Individuals also gain from the better utilisation of their skills through greater job satisfaction and autonomy. This approach avoids supply-side or “provider driven’ training solutions, which may not address the breadth of an enterprise’s organisational context. Instead, providers are encouraged to take on a workforce development role (Froy, Giguere and Meghnagi, 2012).

There is little focus on skills utilisation nationally and within the case study regions and the concept of skills utilisation was relatively unfamiliar to local stakeholders. During the OECD study visit, a concern was expressed that many graduates are not effectively putting their higher level skills to use as they are working outside their field of education and the situation is getting worse. In the Osti nad Labem region, many university graduates take jobs intended for secondary education graduates.

The economic crisis and down-sizing of many firms has improved the productivity of many organisations without public sector intervention and the common view from local stakeholders during the OECD roundtable is that productivity is a matter between firms and research institutions, with little space or reason for the PES or VET institutes to get involved. However, labour productivity in the Czech Republic is low and declined further during the downturn. There are no specific sector strategies or initiatives to improve work organisation or productivity but some public programmes contain elements of innovation leading to improved labour productivity. Universities and education and training institutions are actively involved in delivering and supporting applied research in a broad range of fields relevant to the regional economy.

In the South-Moravian region, the research activities of universities are promoted by regional policies to boost regional innovation potential. Projects such as CEITEC, IT4Innovations, Bio-technology Incubator and Innovation Vouchers (see Box 3.7) are examples of such cooperation. In addition to regional specialised agents, such as the South Moravian Innovation Centre, universities have established technology transfer centres to promote cooperation with business. In the Osti nad Labem region, Purkyni University carries out research activities oriented towards the local chemical, mining and engineering industry and the university has started to build a new campus to be shared with local firms to promote applied research and technology transfer. Businesses can also apply for a national government subsidy to assist with transitioning to new product markets - the Transition to New Business Programme - as part of an active labour market programme offered by the regional labour offices. This is intended to be used when, for example, an employer makes a transition to new technologies.

Box 3.7. Innovation Vouchers, South Moravian region

The innovation voucher was first introduced in 2009 in the Czech Republic by the South Moravian Innovation Centre. An innovation voucher is designed to promote technology and information transfer in order to boost the innovation potential of the regions. It is a subsidy for international companies worth up to CZK 100 000 (approximately EUR 4 000) for the purchase of knowledge which is not commonly available from one of Brno's research institutions. This initiative is financed by the Regional Authority.

Innovation vouchers are a tool for developing mutual trust and cooperation between companies and Brno-based research institutions and give companies the opportunity to test collaboration with selected research teams. Purchased service must lead to a strengthening of a company's competitiveness. Vouchers can be used for example on product/process/service development, feasibility studies, developing a business plan for an innovative product, doing an economic impact assessment, market analysis/marketing strategy, or a new business model development.

So far almost 200 vouchers have been distributed and companies from neighbouring Austria and Germany, as well as Great Britain, have applied for vouchers and 12 regional research institutions have gotten involved. The programme has inspired other regions in the Czech Republic and has attracted more highly skilled people to the region.

Source: South Moravian Innovation Centre (2013), Innovation Vouchers website,, accessed August 2013.

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