Almost every government everywhere speaks
well of skills and training and wants to aim for knowledge economy.
To the extent that Joan Payne began her book,
Women Training and the Skills Shortage with the very memorable phrase,
"Training is the opposite of sin: Almost everyone is for it."
However, governments do disagree on how best training might be supported.
There's two basic different systems.
The first is voluntarist or market-based,
and here I'm thinking of the USA and
Britain, where the underlying assumption is that left to itself,
the market will provide the appropriate level of skill development,
that firms are best place to decide what they need to do to remain competitive,
to produce quality goods, to run efficiently.
So unhampered by cumbersome official bureaucracy, organizations, employers,
individuals will provide the right amount,
the right sort of skills development and of learning opportunities.
The other type of national system is the regulated one.
Here we're talking about Continental Europe and this works on
the principle that training is one of the classic areas of market failure.
In other words, that left to themselves,
individual firms will behave in ways that are
perfectly individually rational, but systemically destructive.
So they will poach skilled workers
from other organizations in preference to growing their own.
They will pay higher wages rather than train.
Remember, recruitment is always an alternative to training when you need skilled staff.
What a regulated economy says,
is that while an individual firm may
make these decisions for the good of the economy as a whole,
or the sector as a whole,
regulations will be in place to ensure that across a sector, skills are available.