Objective of Assignment: Understand how countries approach sector skills development across the Commonwealth
and make practical recommendations for reform.
This work was commissioned by the Commonwealth Secretariat, as part of their programme to understand and facilitate improved access and the delivery of quality skills across the Commonwealth. The specific objective of the study is to unpack the term sector skills development and to understand how Sector Skill Councils (SSCs)across the Commonwealth operate, including how they develop skills, what roles employers play, and how government policy frameworks facilitate these processes. A total of 16 country case studies were conducted across the Commonwealth, covering: Africa, Asia the Caribbean, Canada, Europe, and the Pacific. Through analysing these different countries experience it was possible to offer lessons and understanding of why sector SSCs in certain countries are more strategic and demand-led than others, including the role played by Public/ Private/Partnerships (PPPs) in this process. Each case study analysed: the context in which sector skills development took place, what functions were performed by SSCs, how they were managed, the role played by Public/Private/Partnerships in these processes, as well as the benefits/limitations of using such an approach. The careful selection of case studies ensured a representative sample of countries from across the Commonwealth was analysed.
The analysis presents lessons on why certain approaches for sector skills development in some countries are more successful than others. The first practical lesson looks at what conditions are necessary for SSCs to perform their roles effectively. The second lesson tackles employer engagement, especially around the issue of PPPs. This is at the heart of many debates about the performance of SSCs and the study investigates what are the most effective strategies for PPPs. The third lesson focuses on the importance of integrating SSCs within the wider TVET infrastructure. Unless this occurs, SSCs will face continual difficulties in carrying out their intended functions. The fourth lesson considers the issue that was raised extensively in the analysis, namely how to obtain accurate labour market intelligence and the implementation of a performance based system that is not state-led. The final lesson relates to countries within larger federal government structures and how to mitigate the negative impact of a two tier system of government on SSCs.
Finally, recommendations are made on how to establish effective SSCs that are fit for purpose, or alternatively, how to reform existing ones. A number of recommendations are given that could help an SSC move from solely advisory functions, to more strategic and demand led activities. The key for making such a transition is to ensure that SSCs are employer-led, have the appropriate funds, a clear mandate and are integrated positively with other nstitutions in the wider TVET infrastructure. The findings from this study are being used by the Commonwealth Secretariat in a number of workshops to support capacity building amongst governments in member states.