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Skills training fails to match industry demand - Business School Expert tells OECD forum

22 May 2012

Chris Warhurst

While governments in the developed world believe that bridging the skills gap is essential to economic growth, many are failing to match education and training programs to the needs of industry, according to a Work and Organisational Studies expert at the University of Sydney Business School.

Professor Chris Warhurst has told an OECD Forum in Paris that governments are only now realising that employer demand for skills is as important to economic development as it is to educate and train workers.

"Governments want skill to be a driver of economic development," Professor Warhurst said. "They are only now recognising that employer demand for those skills is also important and they haven't yet figured out how to stimulate this demand."

Professor Warhurst was invited to the OECD's IdeaFactory on skills and employability as a Discussion Leader.

The University of Sydney's participation in the Forum was managed by the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, International, under the Europe regional plan which focuses on increasing engagement with the OECD and international agencies based in Europe.

The annual OECD Forum brings together government ministers, international experts and leading practitioners in economic development.

"Over the past few years in Australia there have been experiments in some states with skill ecosystems, involving government, training providers and employers, and Skills Australia has recently been promoting better use of skills by employers," Professor Warhurst said. "Australia is therefore ahead of the game in many respects."

Professor Warhurst's participation is an opportunity to showcase skills policy and practice developments in Australia. "The Forum is an opportunity to flag to the rest of the world what Australia is doing in terms of pushing forward skill policy and practice," he said.

Sydney University's involvement in the OECD Forum also provides staff with an opportunity to engage with key influencers, global decision makers and senior government officials and to increase awareness of the wide-ranging expertise available at the University in social and economic policy.