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Closing the Skills Gap: Examining Global Policies and Strategies

You may be familiar with recent skills initiatives in the United States, such as the Skills Renewal Act and the Skills Investment Act. The U.S. is focused on investing in long-term jobs through skilling or re-skilling for industries that are growing. Today, we want to take a broad look at policy surrounding skills in other parts of the world to see if there are any overarching trends or unique case studies we can examine.

In the UK, the Skills Act was adopted in April 2022. According to the UK Department of Education, the Skills and Post-16 Education act targets industries such as health and social care, engineering, digital, clean energy, and manufacturing. The act focuses on five action steps in relation to skills, ranging from the way students pay for education to a focus on local impact in the communities of higher education institutions. Boosting training, ensuring good job placement, and prioritizing skills that contribute to green initiatives will also be a focus. At the center of these initiatives are skills plans. Current skill plans are in development by eight sectors in the UK and identify training needed locally, limiting the need for learner-earners to move to get and use the education they desire in new careers. In Australia, the Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) Bill 2022 was passed in October 2022. A piece of the bill established a statutory body called Jobs and Skills Australia within the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations. This group will “provide advice and collect, analyse, share and publish data and other information on Australia's current and emerging labour market and its current, emerging and future skills and training needs and priorities (including in relation to apprenticeships), and the adequacy of the Australian system for providing vocational education and training (including training outcomes).” There is also a green initiative aspect to the JSA, as it will begin “a capacity study on the country’s clean energy workforce to better analyze the skills required to support the clean energy transition,” according to HCA Magazine. From an education perspective, the JSA will also lead a national literacy study to understand the level of skills among Australian adults and design future literacy initiatives on reading literacy, numeracy, and digital literacy. In India, the National Policy on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship began in 2015, and the most recent goal was to skill 500 million people by the end of 2022. The identified challenge was to create a scalable, sustainable, and efficient method of skilling the population. Connecting the skilling initiative with an incentive to boost manufacturing in the country, the plan delivers funds to employers who then develop the training and hiring directly. The government has also expressed an intention to map the skill needs on a global scale to identify needs that India can meet in its skills initiatives. This will be done in connection with developing trade agreements with other nations. This skills mapping will then allow India to identify opportunities for further training and education programs, and advertise their talent pools to industries looking to bring business opportunities to India. Trends in skills policy around the world include a global reach for talent, transferable skills that translate around the world, and an investment in the future of the planet’s resources and population. There are similar themes found in U.S. based policy, where skills initiatives are connected to growing industries and designed to provide support to populations who are under or unemployed. Some of the initiatives mentioned here are designed to meet the needs of other countries, while many share the goal of contributing to a healthier planet, a collaborative worldwide goal. The importance of skills is evident throughout the world, and the impact of policies will be felt immediately and on an enduring scale, for both the individuals receiving support and the industries offering employment and growth opportunities.

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