Skills, Not Just Diplomas: Managing Education for Results in Eastern Europe and Central Asia
The countries of Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) are currently emerging from the deepest recession suffered by any developing region.
Earlier boom years in the ECA region exposed significant bottlenecks to growth, particularly with respect to the skills of the labor force. Paradoxically, for a region with relatively high and expanding educational attainment (as measured by the number of years of completed schooling) and relatively high-quality education in the early years of schooling, a shortage of worker skills has emerged as one of the most important constraints to firm expansion. This book seeks to answer the following questions: Why do ECA firms increasingly complain that they cannot find graduates with the right skills? What can ECA countries do to close the skills gap?
Employment trends in the region encompassing ECA reflect this new reality: jobs have been shifting significantly from unskilled to skilled labor and the wages of highly skilled workers have dramatically improved over the past 20 years. This chapter describes the evolution and patterns of demand for skills in the entire ECA region.
Chapter 2: Education and the Supply of Skills to the ECA Market
Although the education offered in many ECA countries is respectable for their level of income, it does not appear to be good enough (or of the right relevance) to meet the rising demand for skills in the region. Two problems related to quality seem particularly acute: too many students are failing and education systems have difficulties imparting problem-solving skills.
Chapter 3: Resolving the Skills Shortage in the ECA Region: A Policy Framework
This chapter identifies the major impediments that prevent the education system from delivering the skills that are being demanded by the labor markets as identified in the previous chapters. It then offers a policy framework and policy directions to help overcome these impediments.
Chapter 4: Managing for Results at the Pre-University Level of Education
Freed from the day-to-day management of schools, policy makers will be able to devote more of their attention to elaborating strategic educational policy, including research and analysis of system and fiscal performance, and setting overall system goals, standards, regulations, and guidelines.
Chapter 5: Managing for Results in the Tertiary Education Sector
Despite certain areas of excellence and growing numbers of students, the quality of tertiary education1 among countries in the ECA region continues to be of concern. The sector has expanded, but the growth has occurred without sufficient quality assurance mechanisms and without the necessary information enabling users to make informed choices. As a result, it is unclear if tertiary students are graduating with the advanced competencies needed by future employers.
Lifelong learning and adult education and training are fast becoming an important element of education systems across the ECA region. Although demand for labor in the ECA countries has already shifted toward higher-order, multifaceted competencies, it has also become more unpredictable, indicating the need for a market-responsive sector that can easily facilitate the reskilling of the adult labor force.
Chapter 7: Extended Summary: The Path for Education Reforms in the ECA Region
This book investigated two primary questions: Are education systems in the ECA region able to inculcate the right skills in their graduates and what can they do to improve on their performance? In answering these questions, a fundamental problem emerged: data exists on the number of students who graduate in ECA countries, but internationally comparable information on whether graduates of upper secondary and tertiary institutions have the right skills and competencies for the job market is not available.