‘Re-Shoring' and Skill Mismatch. Training Needs Analysis in School-to-Work Transition

Friday, 3 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
TW1.2.04 (Tower One)
Filippo Ferrari, Bologna University, Bologna, Italy
Workers’ capabilities and knowledge are factors that a company can use to boost its productivity (Psilos and Gereffi, 2011). The crucial role played workers’ skills are especially relevant in advance economies where countries’ growth is strictly linked to the high-skilled employees’ development. The aim of this paper is hence to present a model of intervention in order to carry out training needs analysis by checking skills and knowledge and identifying gaps between skills provided by school and skills requested by firms for the same jobs. The paper also aims to answer the question ‘How could educational systems (higher education, vocational education and training) intervene in tackling skill shortages in Western industrialised economies?’

This paper presents one of the few research projects carried out in an Italian local labour market which goes beyond educational mismatch in order to assess the skill mismatch (and consequent transactional costs: Williamson, 1985; Tadenis, Williamson, 2012) in school-to-work transition. Unfortunately, often educational paths do not provide young workers with generic skills, and so organizations are forced to provide these skills to their newcomers (Ferrari, Emiliani, 2009). Hence, the cost of generic training is added on to that of specific training. Furthermore, the relocation of operational activity away from industrialised nations has led to the erosion of manufacturing skills (Bailey et al., 2010), and this fact often results in a severe skill shortage in a specific local labour market becoming much more prominent in the case of re-shoring. Due to these ongoing elements, there arises the need to provide the actors of an educational system with proper tools for assessing and correcting vocational skills mismatch, i.e. the gap between skills possessed at the end of an educational path and skills required by the evolving labour market.  Testing of this model was carried out through quantitative research conducted in two secondary schools (from a total of approximately 20 teachers and more than 100 final-year students) analysing five jobs (fashion operator; electrician; mechanic; heat treatment operator; accountant) using different tools. The data about students’ skills and aptitude was collected using a self-reporting six-point scale. Parallel to this quantitative research, 12 interviews were carried out with employers, using the teachers' version of these tools. In these interviews, quantitative data was integrated with qualitative.

The model here presented is very effective in identifying the specific skills that need to be improved, and the organisational impact is extremely minimal, however, a weaknesses of this model could be high costs due to the fact that it only works if all the stakeholders (firms, schools, learning agencies) are involved. Finally, this model also could be useful in order to design programmes aiming to overcome the erosion of manufacturing skills and provide students with skills that company need to deal with a global markets.