The need for good data and information to monitor progress
The scale of the reform in Latvia will require careful monitoring and evaluation in order to keep it on track, identify barriers to timely and efficient implementation, and identify innovative and successful practice that should be shared across the system. More research on the accessibility and effectiveness of vocational education is needed, for example on ways to reduce the number of students that drop out or are expelled from vocational schools due to underperformance or non-attendance. This places demands on the country’s systems for data collection and analysis on vocational education and for more research on education, skills and the labour market in general. MoES has recognised this as an area for improvement. Measures include the strengthening of its management information system, the policy-analysis capacity of public administration and higher education and research institutions, and co-operation among the research community in Latvia.
To support these efforts and the wider reform process in general Latvia should consider introducing a number of new data sets and research studies. longitudinal data would allow the tracking of individual education and employment histories and thus the ability to analyse the links between vocational education and later labour market experience. in order to track progress, some countries attach a unique identifier to each person. This identifier is in turn attached to a range of administrative data sets, including education, labour market and tax records. For example, in the United Kingdom, educational institutions have to return data on the participation, achievement and progression of every young person through the use of an individualised learner Record system. While such unified data sets raise privacy concerns, they can be a very efficient way of organising relevant data.
Another suggestion is robust labour-market data that can be disaggregated at the local, regional and sectoral level to plan and update vocational education systems. international studies emphasise the importance of collecting such data (oECD, 2012b). in New Zealand, the department of labour has developed a system for supplying regular labour market reports disaggregated to regional level and accompanying analytical tools to facilitate further analysis (Froy and Giguere, 2010).
An employer skills survey that provides data on employers’ demand for and investment in skills, such as the model used in the United Kingdom since 2011, can help monitor employers’ behaviour and demand for labour. This serves the needs of the key stakeholders: the governments, employers, education and training providers, individuals, and their career guidance advisers. Through this survey the government of the United Kingdom has access to a regular source of information about the changing skill needs in the labour markets and the extent to which employers are investing in training and engaging with government-funded initiatives such as apprenticeships.
Employers in turn can use the data to see how they compare with other organisations in their sector in their provision of training and in terms of their skill gaps or shortages. They can also monitor the key challenges and opportunities for their sector. individuals and career guidance advisers can identify sectors and occupations experiencing particular skill shortages and any changes in the type of skills required. Education and training providers can also use the results to help adapt their provision so that it better aligns with employer and sector-based demand, and to monitor shifts in the type of demand.