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HUMAN CAPITAL FOR REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT:ETF FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION1. Background and rationaleThe ETF’s mandate is to support the partner countries to make effective human capital developmentpolicies as a key pillar of sustainable economic and social development and as support for moreinformed democracies. Since 2011, the ETF has prioritised the regional dimension of human capitaldevelopment for the following reasons:1. As indicated in various Torino Process policy analyses conducted in 2010, the ETF partner countries increasingly recognise regional development as an essential component of national economic competitiveness and social development. Indeed, many of them experience significant differences between regions in terms of economic and/or social development levels or development dynamics, which hamper their overall consistent and thus, sustainable, development.2. Experience shows that regional development requires comprehensive and coordinated policies in which human capital development is a key element. One-sided policies that focus only on improving the physical infrastructure of the region and attracting national and foreign private direct investment are not sufficient to support regional development if the skills are lacking to make the best use of such investment. Moreover, a creative and entrepreneurial labour force with the right mix of skills can contribute positively to the sustainability and growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are the economic backbone of many regions in the ETF partner countries.3. Experience also shows that addressing human capital development policies from the regional and local levels increases their effectiveness, mainly by ensuring a better match between the supply and demand of skills. The underlying reason is that local stakeholders know their own needs best and can be more inventive in finding local solutions to engage citizens. This implies active participation of regional and local actors in skills development processes;4. Provided the concerns about representativeness and effective roles for stakeholders (regional authorities, public administrations, civil society organisations, social partners, education and training institutions -including universities and research institutes-, the private sector and local communities) are addressed, this approach helps to establish governance models that increase the relevance, quality and accountability of public policies.5. Last but not least, providing direct support to regions encourages innovative approaches that could feed and inform national strategic reflection for evidence-based, robust policies promoting the regional development of human capital. This should eventually reconcile the usual top-down policy-making approach with the bottom-up approach being developed in many partner countries. It should also ensure greater complementarity and subsidiarity between the national level in charge of the overall human capital development policy and the regional/local level that can make the necessary adjustments to regional socio-economic contexts.
Efforts are currently being made in a number of countries to make progress in regional development.Some countries have gone further than others. For example, countries in the EU pre-accession regionhave developed operational plans and started establishing regional/local institutions for thedevelopment of regional human capital policies, or have delegated authority to sub-national levels forthe implementation of national policies. Others have started to decentralise budgets, while southernMediterranean countries have put regional development high on their policy agendas following theArab Spring. However, in most cases these actions are incomplete, neither accompanied withexpertise or funding, nor inscribed in clearly defined institutional settings or national frameworks foraction. Moreover, they are often not coherently articulated with other public policies. This reduces thecapacity of regional actors to participate effectively in policy development and implementation andcalls for external support for a more integrated approach.Various international institutions, such as the UNDP or the OECD, have recognised the importance ofregional development and have invested expertise to support it. The EU through its externalassistance programmes in the Pre-accession and Neighbourhood countries has supported regionaldevelopment; while through its internal policies as well as through the work of the Committee of theRegions, has gained experience, and adopted practices and methodologies for regional approachesto human capital development that could inspire ETF partner countries.2. Objective of ETF actionThe ETF’s objectives are to raise awareness and support the development of policies in its partnercountries that :1. promote the role of regional and local actors in skill development processes for more efficient education, training and employment systems; and,2. set human capital development as a key vector for local and regional development for improved overall socio-economic performance.The ETF will do this by1. supporting partnership-based actions at regional and local levels to link skills development strategies to regional development, including the preparation of regional development plans for education and training; and2. feeding the experience of these innovative actions into new governance approaches for effective education and training policies.3. Guiding principlesThe ETF considers that the process followed is as important as the content of the support.In terms of process, ETF action will be based on principles in line with those guiding the Torinoprocess1: partnership: a highly participatory approach involving networks of key stakeholders in education and training at each level (national, regional, local) and between these levels. This is to ensure the vertical and horizontal coordination of all involved, following a subsidiarity principle, in line with multi-governance approaches;1 Participation, holistic approach, evidence, ownership2
a priority focus on institutional capacity building (from awareness-raising to technical training and tool provision) targeting all stakeholders; drawing upon and sharing experience and good practice developed in the EU member states; region-to-region and partner country-to-partner country cooperation as a sustainable channel for peer learning; an integrated approach that links the various policies dealing with human capital (such as education and training, labour, industry and economic development, etc.)In terms of content, beyond the specific policy issues that will be addressed according to country andregional context, the common guiding principles are: The balance between the skills needed by regional/local labour markets and the skills provided by education and training supply. The territoriality of economic sector skills will also be considered; The evidence base: data to be collected, analysed or produced to inform policies and set up intelligence mechanisms at regional level.4. Building blocks of ETF support activitiesNB: Before fully engaging in regional development, a number of countries will need to go through apreliminary phase, which could range from awareness-raising on the benefits of the regional approachto the mapping of stakeholders, and stocktaking of current approaches, practices, policies andassessment of their consistency (e.g. between lifelong learning strategies, SMEs andentrepreneurship strategies, regional development or decentralisation strategies, etc.)Many countries will actually receive this kind of “preliminary” support from the ETF.a) Understanding the present and future demand for skills at regional/local level: This concerns the capacity of local economic actors to identify eventual skills gaps that impede the further development of key economic activities in the region and the shift towards higher added value products and services. It also concerns the identification of regional comparative/competitive advantages that are not yet (fully) exploited by current economic activity as well as an awareness of the necessary skills. Analyses of the skills required by key economic sectors in the region (namely those who have the largest contribution to employment at present) as well as of the economic sectors that have a potential for future development are necessary. Worker mobility, including migration issues, and gender-specific skills needs, will be an integral part of this analytical phase. The link between the features of the system and current policies (lifelong learning, SMEs, entrepreneurship, etc.) will also have to be assessed.b) Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of education and training provision at regional/local level: This requires an assessment of (i) the capacity of education and training institutions in the region to provide quality skills development opportunities for all (young people and adults alike) and (ii) the relevance of education and training provision to regional/local requirements. The first assessment involves mapping and analysing the education and training system in the region: public and private supply in initial and continuing training; funding schemes and financing instruments (in terms of availability and effective use by target beneficiaries); and the training institution landscape (training capacity and places occupied, types of programme and qualifications offered, capacity to adapt programmes to emerging regional skills needs, internal organisation and use of resources etc.). The second part of the assessment will use tools such as graduate tracer studies and/or employer satisfaction surveys.3
c) Creating or revitalising local partnerships for innovative solutions to the skills mismatch: This concerns the creation of opportunities and/or platforms for regional and local actors from education/training, the economy and labour market to: - share and systematise intelligence (see building blocks (a) and (b) above), such as by jointly monitoring skills development processes in the region, possibly organising collaboration into an observatory function; - develop a common vision and/or strategy for regional human capital development; - jointly identify and implement innovative measures/actions/quick wins that would contribute to addressing weaknesses within the current framework (legal, institutional, capacity). The institutional home or recipient for such innovative actions could, for instance, be training institutions or regional authorities in charge of skills development; - develop a common understanding of the respective roles and responsibilities in policy implementation; and - build capacities, through training, coaching or other capacity building methods, to enable all actors to effectively carry out their respective roles.d) Assessing the adequacy of existing institutional settings for the effective participation of local actors in policy development and implementation: This concerns the in-depth analysis of the strengths and gaps in the present (political, legal, institutional, governance, budgetary, etc.) framework for policy development and implementation and the opportunities it provides to regional and local actors to become actively and effectively involved. This should lead to recommendations regarding the necessary adaptation of institutional settings so as to empower regional and local actors to formalise their participation in the delivery of education and training. It also concerns the identification of national support actions to enhance the capacity of regional and local actors to undertake their responsibilities. These actions could also foster more efficient human capital development policies, by identifying the most appropriate levels of intervention (local/regional/national) in relation to the type of skills development needs. Beyond the national level, the lessons learnt from such approaches could also be channelled to influence EU programming in assistance to regional development.5. Expected results National stakeholders are made aware of the benefits of involving regional/local actors in the design and implementation of human capital development policies and of their potential role; The implications in terms of adapting functional governance models (in some cases institutional settings may have to be adapted) are taken into consideration by high-level policy makers; The representation and participation of regional stakeholders in the policy making cycle is operational, effective and efficient. Actions carried out in partnership at regional and local levels inspire national policies for vocational education and training, regional development and social and economic development; The skills dimension is accepted and addressed as a transversal issue and the overall consistency/integration of policies is improved from a human capital development point of view.The approach will be gradual and embedded in a 4 to 5-year framework.4
In the short-term (years one and two), a mapping and analysis of the current situation should becarried out and methodologies and tools adapted and developed accordingly. The capacity building ofregional stakeholders should be launched to ensure the development of effective partnerships and aconcerted regional strategy for human capital development. Innovative pilot actions could be identifiedand implemented through these partnerships.In the mid to long-term (years three to five), the approach should be systematised to ensure thecollection of sustainable intelligence about the labour market. The innovative actions carried out thusfar should have produced results to feed the national strategic reflection on regional development, andthus contribute to policy making at national level.ETF action on human capital for regional development in TunisiaIn Tunisia, the ETF has designed a project to support regional development in the southerngovernorate of Medenine in in line with these guidelines. The project has four main objectives:1. Build regional stakeholder capacities for a partnership approach to human capital development;2. Develop methodologies and analytical tools to monitor regional economic dynamics and the responsiveness and relevance of the education and training system with regard to these dynamics;3. Jointly define and implement innovative actions to improve the matching of skills needs and training supply in the short term;4. Provide input (lessons learnt etc.) to the national strategic reflection on regional development from a human capital perspectiveThe project will cover a two-year period (2012-13) and will be launched officially on 13 March 2012. Itwill involve all the main stakeholders of the governorate.5