Business Skills Development

The success of every business is dependent on the skills of its employees. Similarly, the success of every economy is dependent on the availability of a skilled workforce that can serve the sectors where growth can be best achieved. However, in many developing countries there is a gap between the demand for skills that can help businesses to grow and develop products and services for their markets, and the supply of skills from within the domestic labour market.

In less developed economies the investments required to address the gap are often overlooked. Sometimes the problem can be traced back to standards of primary and secondary education meaning many basic skills are underdeveloped across the population. Elsewhere, there can be political obstacles to steering the labour force away from declining industries. In some regions, too, social and cultural trends encourage an oversupply of skills in areas of limited economic benefit. A corresponding under-supply of skills then affects new and emerging industries.

Governments, large corporations, business associations and even small and medium enterprises can help address this gap. Their interventions can drive economic growth, and technical assistance programmes can embed these interventions in the ministries, companies, chambers of commerce and enterprises that are best positioned to make change happen. Such interventions include:

  • Technical and vocational education training: developing national programmes with curricula that develop the appropriate skills, setting standards for training and qualifications, building institutions capable of delivering high quality courses, training of trainers and creating links with business and communities
  • Apprenticeship schemes: designing and supporting the implementation of schemes to improve the skills of school leavers for particular technical industries, whilst offering access to employment
  • Mentoring: matching entrepreneurs and enterprises with experienced professionals to provide both technical and moral support during the development of businesses
  • Reskilling: labour adjustment programmes to help workers transition from declining industries into areas of economic growth
  • Personnel development: helping businesses plan training into their budgets and build ongoing programmes to develop the skills of their employees
  • Raising awareness: devising public communications strategies to encourage the uptake of courses and training programmes
  • Policy development: ensuring a coordinated approach across a spectrum of interventions to link governments, businesses and civil society in addressing these issues