Choosing for knowledge workers; Skills for knowledge workers in the labor market

2013 – The Advisory Council for Science and Technology Policy (AWT) in the Netherlands has published an advise on solving the existing mismatch between demand and supply of knowledge workers at the request of the Ministries of Education and Science and  of Economy.

Knowledge workers are important and decisive for the innovative capacity of society. The AWT calls  ‘innovative skills and autonomy in functioning ‘  the distinctive features of knowledge workers. Education is not sufficiently distinctive. On the basis of the Dutch Working Conditions Survey ( NEA ) the AWT outlines: who are knowledge workers in the Netherlands, where they work and what they find important. A small percentage of employees consider themselves knowledge worker: 12-13 % . Of this group, only 27 % work in one of the top sectors distinguished for  the government industrial policy.

There are three types of mismatch:
The vertical mismatch: this concerns the level of education. There must be a balance in education levels, not necessarily as many employees with the highest possible education. Now there is mainly a shortage of secondary educated people with the skills of a knowledge worker.
The horizontal mismatch: there are now too few graduates in the science and  technology sector.
The skills mismatch: there are too few knowledge workers with innovation competences.

Recommendations :
The AWT makes four recommendations to government , employers and educational institutions.

1. Make a ‘plan of action for skills’
This action plan should lead to greater understanding , attention and awareness in the field for the role of skills and to clarity about the respective roles of government, employers and educational institutions in the implementation of policies to stimulate skills.

2. Encourage (future) employees to become knowledge workers by investing in skills:
a.  Encourage educational institutions to include in their training programs in addition to knowledge, the development of alpha, beta and gamma skills;
b . Pay extra attention in this regard to secondary education;
c . Encourage ‘learning on the job’, employers should give more opportunity for the employees to participate in exchange programs and sabbaticals. The government should create the possibility for employers to save the employment of knowledge workers in times of economic crisis or to employ knowledge workers of other organisations for a fixed period of time (‘kenniswerkersregeling’).
d. ‘ intrapreneurship ‘ , employers should provide more space for internal entrepreneurship;  the government would have to use the top sector policy to encourage this.

3. Give regions more experimental space for knowledge workers policy.
Cooperation between regions and government  in knowledge workers policy should result in custom made policies for each region. Labor and talent pools are a good means.

4. Encourage mobility of (potential ) knowledge workers;
In this policy, the employability of the knowledge worker should be central. The national government should attract European /foreign knowledge workers by:
–  making cross-border work more attractive, including through less bureaucracy,
–  branding of the Netherlands and Dutch regions,
–  creating labor pools together with sector-related regions abroad.

Reference: AWT ( 2013 ), Kiezen voor kenniswerkers.Vaardigheden op de arbeidsmarkt voor kenniswerkers.  (Choosing for knowledge workers. Skills for knowledge workers in the labor market). AWT report No. 81. ISBN: 9789077005620. (download the Dutch report via:

Theme:  Innovation & Innovation Power , Intrapreneurship , Talent development

Source: report
Sector : not specific