The Latvian Employers’ Confederation (LDDK), the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LTRK), and the Foreign Investors’ Council in Latvia (FICIL) have evaluated the Human Capital Development Strategy (CAS) draft, developed by the Ministry of Economics (EM), and call for its improvement to make the Latvian human capital more competitive within Europe.

All employer organisations appreciate and thank the Ministry of Economics for initiating the work on the Human Capital Development Strategy. In today’s economy, only countries with leading solutions in a human capital policy can achieve sustainable results, enabling every citizen to work successfully and to contribute to societal well-being. For a long time, we have pointed out and proposed how to avoid the “drowning” of the human capital development in bureaucratic, uncoordinated measures where jurisdictional responsibilities overlap and where both the state and the European Union fund (ESF) resources are being wasted. It seemed there is hope that in the future employers’ development plans will be taken into account.

Nevertheless, examining the first draft of the strategy, all organisations agree with conclusions of the State Audit Office on CAS – the public administration has not been able to agree on set priorities and data-driven solutions. Currently, the significant number of CAS measures and a lack of interconnections between them do not provide a full picture of the impact of measures on the economic development and whether the planned resource allocation will be used effectively and efficiently. More importantly, the problem with the overlapping functions of the State Education Development Agency (VIAA) and the State Employment Agency (NVA) is still being ignored, which not only prevents the implementation of a unified adult education strategy but also is a glaring example of ineffective public administration and lobbying of the interests of individual state institutions.

In the coming years, Latvia will need to requalify or improve the skills of approximately 300,000 residents. We need an adult education reform – it should be built anew, based on needs of the economy and each person’s abilities, with a clear, measurable impact on society and economic growth, including helping every resident to change their respective employment sector or acquire the skills and qualifications needed in the labour market that are well-paid, thus reducing the number of persons in the low-income groups.

Similarly, employers and industry associations have long insisted on making STEM education a state priority, demanding appropriate funding and other solutions. Industries have shown and proven their readiness to get involved, to turn the planned STEM education measures from fragmented and unrelated into an ambitious and coherent plan for the STEM education development at all levels. ICT workforce, engineers and industry digitalisation specialists cannot be prepared if STEM measures are not ensured from the pre-school age, if teachers do not receive the necessary support, and if the high-quality educational resources are not widely available. We emphasise that both the development of horizontal and vertical STEM skills are a prerequisite for the future labour market structural change. If the state demands an economic breakthrough from entrepreneurs, the entrepreneurs demand a high quality of state policies and real action.

Employer organisations cannot approve the current CAS draft and see the need to highlight its shortcomings – we call for its improvement and are ready to participate in the strategy’s refinement. This is an important document for all of us, therefore we have responded to the invitation to meet with the Minister of Education and Science, Anda Čakša, as well as invited Prime Minister, Evika Siliņa, for a discussion to incorporate employers’ vision.