Glossary of Skills and Labour Migration

Explanatory notes

The present glossary contains a comprehensive set of definitions on skills and labour migration, coming from the ILO, other international organizations and academic literature. The purpose is to have a collection of existing terms, which could be used as a reference. In some cases, more than one definition has been included, for completeness.

BROWSE ALPHABETICALLY:

  1. A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

A

  • Accreditation
    Assurance that programmes, materials and institutions, whether under public or private jurisdiction, meet standards as established by legislation.

    Source: UNESCO-UNEVOC, TVETipedia Glossary.

    The official recognition and approval of training courses, programmes and institutions.

    Source: ILO. 2006. Glossary of Key Terms on Learning and Training for Work.
  • Active labour market policies
    Active labour market policies have traditionally aimed to reduce unemployment by: (i) matching jobseekers with current vacancies through direct job-search assistance or information provision; (ii) upgrading and adapting the skills of current jobseekers in order to improve their employability; (iii) providing incentives to individuals or firms to take up certain jobs or hire certain categories of workers; and (iv) creating jobs either in the form of public sector employment or the provision of subsidies for private sector work.

    Source: ILO. 2019. What works active labour market policies in latin america and the caribbean. (p. 50).
  • Adult education
    Education specifically targeting individuals who are regarded as adults by the society to which they belong, to improve their technical or professional qualifications, further develop their abilities, enrich their knowledge with the purpose to complete a level of formal education, or to acquire knowledge, skills and competencies in a new field or to refresh or update their knowledge in a particular field. This also includes what may be referred to as ‘continuing education’, ‘recurrent education’ or ‘second chance education’.

    Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS).
  • Apprenticeship
    Systematic long-term training for a recognised occupation, taking place substantially within an undertaking or under an independent craftsman should be governed by a written contract of apprenticeship and be subject to established standards’.

    Source: Vocational Training Recommendation, 1962 (No. 117).
  • Asylum-seeker
    An individual who is seeking international protection. In countries with individualized procedures, an asylum-seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which the claim is submitted. Not every asylum-seeker will ultimately be recognized as a refugee, but every refugee was initially an asylum-seeker.

    Source: UNHCR Master Glossary of Terms.

B

C

E

  • Educational or training pathways
    Various combinations of education, training and employment activities that individuals may undertake over time to reach a certain destination, for example a desired qualification or type of employment.

    Source: UNEVOC/NCVER 2009.
  • Employability
    Portable competencies and qualifications that enhance an individual’s capacity to make use of the education and training opportunities available in order to secure and retain decent work, to progress within the enterprise and between jobs, and to cope with changing technology and labour market conditions.

    Source: ILO Human Resources Development Recommendation, 2004 (No. 195), Para. I.2(d)).
  • Employment
    Persons in employment are defined as all those of working age who, during a short reference period, were engaged in any activity to produce goods or provide services for pay or profit. They comprise employed persons “at work”, i.e. who worked in a job for at least one hour; and employed persons “not at work” due to temporary absence from a job, or to working-time arrangements (such as shift work, flexitime and compensatory leave for overtime).

    Source: ILO Glossary of Statistical Terms
  • Employment policy
    Employment policy is described in Article 1 of the ILO Employment Policy Convention, 1964 (No. 122) as follows: 1. With a view to stimulating economic growth and development, raising levels of living, meeting manpower requirements and overcoming unemployment and underemployment, each Member shall declare and pursue, as a major goal, an active policy designed to promote full, productive and freely chosen employment.
    2. The said policy shall aim at ensuring that –
    (a) there is work for all who are available for and seeking work;
    (b) such work is as productive as possible;
    (c) there is freedom of choice of employment and the fullest possible opportunity for each worker to qualify for, and to use his skills and endowments in, a job for which he is well suited, irrespective of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin.

    Source: ILO Employment Policy Convention, 1964 (No. 122).

    The Employment Policy (Supplementary Provisions) Recommendation, 1984 (No. 169) contains further details on policy approaches to support member States’ efforts to design and implement effective employment policies.

    Source: Employment Policy (Supplementary Provisions) Recommendation, 1984 (No. 169).
  • Employment services providers
    Employment services providers are tasked with providing the services necessary for labour migration and ensuring that returnees have assistance for labour market reinsertion. The employment services providers include public employment services and private employment agencies, as well as other organizations at the forefront of requests for support services to migrant workers (potential, current and returning migrant workers) and refugees.

    Source: 2020. How to Facilitate the Recognition of Skills of Migrant Workers Guide for Employment Services Providers.

F

  • Formal learning
    Education that is institutionalised, intentional and planned through public organizations and recognised private bodies and – in their totality – constitute the formal education system of a country. Formal education programmes are thus recognised as such by the relevant national education authorities or equivalent authorities, e.g. any other institution in cooperation with the national or sub-national education authorities. Formal education consists mostly of initial education. Vocational education, special needs education and some parts of adult education are often recognised as being part of the formal education system.

    Source: International Standard Classification of Education, ISCED 2011.
  • For-work international migrants
    The concept of for‐work international migrants is intended to measure the movements of persons from one country to another for the purpose of undertaking or seeking work.

    Source: ILO.2018. Guidelines concerning statistics of international labour migration

G

  • Global compact on migration
    The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (A/RES/73/195), is the first intergovernmental agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner. It was adopted at an intergovernmental conference on migration in Marrakesh, Morocco on 10 December 2018. Objective 18 of the Compact contains a commitment to “Invest in skills development and facilitate mutual recognition of skills, qualifications and competences”.

    Source: Click here

H

  • Highly-skilled worker
    According to ISCO – 08, the occupations are divided in four groups based upon the skills level required. Levels 3 & 4 are require high level of skills:

    Skills level 3 - Typically involve the performance of complex technical and practical tasks that require an extensive body of factual, technical and procedural knowledge in a specialised field. They include shop managers, medical laboratory technicians, legal secretaries, commercial sales representatives, diagnostic medical radiographers, computer support technicians, broadcasting and recording technicians.

    Skills level 4 - Typically involve the performance of tasks that require complex problem-solving decision-making and creativity based upon an extensive body of theoretical and factual knowledge in a specialised field. They include sales and marketing managers, civil engineers, school teachers, medical practitioners, musicians, computer system analysts.

    According to ISCED 2013, based on the level of education attainment, highly-skilled workers are those on:
    Level 5 – Short-cycle tertiary education
    Level 6 – Bachelor’s or equivalent level
    Level 7 – Master’s or equivalent level
    Level 8 – Doctoral or equivalent level

    Source: Click here

I

  • Informal apprenticeship
    Informal apprenticeship refers to the system by which a young apprentice acquires the skills for a trade or craft in a micro or small enterprise learning and working side by side with an experienced practitioner.

    Source: Click here
  • Informal economy
    The informal economy encompasses both concepts of informal sector and informal employment and is defined as all economic activities by workers and economic units that are - in law or in practice - not covered or insufficiently covered by formal arrangements.

    Source: Click here
  • Informal employment
    Informal employment comprises persons who in their main job were: (a) own-account workers, employers or members of producers’ cooperatives employed in their own informal sector enterprises; (b) own-account workers engaged in the production of goods exclusively for own final use by their household; (c) contributing family workers, irrespective of whether they work in formal or informal sector enterprises; or (d) employees holding informal jobs, whether employed by formal sector enterprises, informal sector enterprises, or as paid domestic workers by households.

    Source: ILO glossary of statistical terms.

    All economic activities by workers and economic units that are – in law or in practice – not covered or insufficiently covered by formal arrangements. Source: ILO Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015 (No. 204) Article 2(a).
  • Informal learning
    Forms of learning that are intentional or deliberate but are not institutionalized. They are less organized and structured than either formal or non-formal education. Informal learning may include learning activities that occur in the family, in the work place, in the local community, and in daily life, on a self-directed, family-directed or socially-directed basis.

    Source: UNESCO. ISCED 2011.
  • Initial training
    Education and initial training provide the foundation of individuals' employability. Initial training by enterprises plays an important part in assisting young people to adapt to particular jobs and subsequently develop their portable professional competencies, especially when there has been little, or too general.

    Source: International Labour Conference- 88th Session, 30 May - 15 June 2000. Report V: Human resources training and development: Vocational guidance and vocational training. Click here
  • Integration
    In relation to migrants, integration denotes actual enjoyment by foreigners of opportunities in law and practice that are comparable to those of nationals with similar characteristics in terms of age, sex, education, etc., i.e. their successful participation with the same outcomes in the life of the society of which both groups form part.

    Source: Böhning, W.R. and de Beijl, R.Z., 1995. The integration of migrant workers in the labour market: policies and their impact (Vol. 8). Employment Department, International Labour Office. Click here
  • International labour standards on labour migration
    In principle, all international labour standards, unless otherwise stated, are applicable to migrant workers. These standards include the eight fundamental rights Conventions of the ILO identified in the 1998 ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work; standards of general application, such as those addressing protection of wages and occupational safety and health, as well as the governance Conventions concerning labour inspection, employment policy and tripartite consultation; and instruments containing specific provisions on migrant workers such as the Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (No. 181) , the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) and social security instruments.
    From its very inception, the ILO also resolved to protect “the interests of workers employed in countries other than their own” (ILO Constitution, 1919, Preamble, recital 2), and has pioneered the development of specific international standards for the governance of labour migration and protection of migrant workers. It has adopted two Conventions, in 1949 and 1975, which are accompanied by non-binding Recommendations.
    ILO migrant-specific instruments:
    Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949 (No. 97);
    Migration for Employment Recommendation (Revised), 1949 (No. 86);
    Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975 (No. 143);
    Migrant Workers Recommendation, 1975 (No. 151).
    In addition to international labour standards, migrant workers and members of their families are protected by the nine UN core international human rights instruments, which apply to all persons irrespective of their nationality. One of these core instruments is the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, which was adopted by the Un General Asssembly in 1990 and entered into force in 2003. This Convention complements the four ILO instruments on migrant workers but is broader in scope going beyond labour issues. It also sets up the Committee on Migrant Workers which is responsible for monitoring the Convention’s application by States Parties. The ILO participates, in a consultative capacity, in the meetings of this Committee.
    There are also other mechanisms within the UN system relevant to the protection of migrant workers, including the special procedure mandates of the UN Human Rights Council, and most notably the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants.

    Source: Click here
  • International labour migration/migration for employment
    Migration for employment is an important global issue, which now affects most countries in the world. Two major labour market forces are in operation today that result in increased migration for work – many people of working age either cannot find employment or cannot find employment adequate to support themselves and their families in their own countries, while some other countries have a shortage of workers to fill positions in various sectors of their economies.
    Other factors include demographic change, socio-economic and political crises, and widening wage gaps within, as well as between, developed and developing countries. There is consequently much movement across borders for employment, with women independently migrating for work in considerably greater numbers than in the past and now comprising about half of all migrant workers.

    Source: ILO. 2006. Multilateral Framework on Labour Migration: non-binding principles and guidelines for a rights-based approach to labour migration.
  • International migration
    An international migrant is defined as any person who changes his or her country of usual residence.

    Source: Recommendations on Statistics of International Migration, Revision 1 (1998)
  • ISCED
    The International Standard Classification is the international classification, promoted by the UNESCO, for organising education programmes and related qualifications by levels (ISCED 2011) and fields (ISCED 2013). The ISCED, 2011 sets nine levels of education:

    ISCED level 0 – Early childhood education
    SCED level 1 – Primary education
    ISCED level 2 – Lower secondary education
    ISCED level 3 – Upper secondary education
    ISCED level 4 – Post-secondary non-tertiary education
    ISCED level 5 – Short-cycle tertiary education
    ISCED level 6 – Bachelor’s or equivalent level
    ISCED level 7 – Master’s or equivalent level
    ISCED level 8 – Doctoral or equivalent level

    Source: Click here
  • ISCO
    The International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO-08), adopted by the ILO, provides a system for classifying and aggregating occupational information obtained by means of statistical censuses and surveys, as well as from administrative records.
    ISCO-08 is a four-level hierarchically structured classification that allows all jobs in the world to be classified into 436 unit groups. These groups are aggregated into 130 minor groups, 43 sub-major groups and 10 major groups, based on their similarity in terms of the skill level and skill specialization required for the jobs. The major groups are:
    1. Managers
    2. Professionals
    3. Technicians and Associate Professionals
    4. Clerical Support Workers
    5. Services and Sales Workers
    6. Skilled Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery Workers
    7. Craft and Related Trades Workers
    8. Plant and Machine Operators and Assemblers
    9. Elementary Occupations
    10. Armed Forces Occupations
    Based upon the level and specialisation of skills involved, occupations are grouped in four levels:
    Skills level 1 – Typically involve the performance of simple and routine physical or manual tasks.
    Skills level 2 - Typically involve the performance of tasks such as operating machinery and electronic equipment; driving vehicles; maintenance and repair of electrical and mechanical equipment; and manipulation, ordering and storage of information
    Skills level 3 - Typically involve the performance of complex technical and practical tasks that require an extensive body of factual, technical and procedural knowledge in a specialised field.
    Skills level 4 - Typically involve the performance of tasks that require complex problem-solving decision-making and creativity based upon an extensive body of theoretical and factual knowledge in a specialised field

    Source: Click here

K

  • Knowledge
    Knowledge is central to any discussion of learning and may be understood as the way in which individuals and societies apply meaning to experience. It can therefore be seen broadly as the information, understanding, skills, values and attitudes acquired through learning. As such, knowledge is linked inextricably to the cultural, social, environmental and institutional contexts in which it is created and reproduced.

    Source: UNESCO. 2015. Rethinking education: towards a global common good?

L

  • Labour force
    The labour force comprises all persons of working age who furnish the supply of labour for the production of goods and services during a specified time-reference period. It refers to the sum of all persons of working age who are employed and those who are unemployed.

    Source: ILO Glossary of statistical terms
  • Labour force participation rate
    The labour force participation rate expresses the labour force as a percent of the working-age population.

    Source: ILO glossary of statistical terms.
  • Labour force survey (LFS)
    A LFS is a household-based sample survey focused on the labour force status of the working age population and related statistics. Survey respondents are members of sampled households. The LFS seeks to provide reliable, coherent information from a socioeconomic perspective about the total working age population and its components, in particular the labour force. Such surveys often allow disaggregation of the labour force by personal characteristics such as sex, age, educational attainment, and in some cases, by migrant status and ethnicity as well as information about the jobs held by employed persons (e.g. occupation and type of contract). The LFS, which is most often conducted at least once a year (in many cases on a quarterly, monthly or even continual basis), constitutes the main data collection instrument for statistics on employment and unemployment worldwide. The concept of employment in household surveys refers to employed persons, including self-employed workers, rather than to jobs, since a person may have several jobs and work in different establishments. Some labour force surveys allow breakdowns of employed persons according to multiple jobholding characteristics.
    Labour force surveys are the main source of statistics for monitoring labour markets, labour underutilization including unemployment, and the quality of jobs and working conditions of persons in employment and in unpaid trainee work.

    Source: ILO Glossary of statistical terms
  • Labour institutions
    The “rules, practices and policies—whether formal or informal, written or unwritten – all of which affect how the labour market works. They are as explicit and long-standing as certain labour laws that we have come to consider as universal rights, but also span the scope of informal practices that reflect the views of society, as well as short-term policies that fade and resurge depending on the policy mood”

    Source: Berg, J. and Kucera, D. 2008. In defence of labour market institutions: Cultivating justice in the developing world (Geneva and London, ILO and Palgrave Macmillan), p. 11).
  • Labour Market Information System
    A labour market information system is a network of institutions, persons and information that have mutually recognized roles, agreements and functions with respect to the production, storage, dissemination and use of labour market related information and results in order to maximise the potential for relevant and applicable policy and programme formulation and implementation.

    Source: ILOSTAT. Labour Market Information Systems (LMIS): What is LMIS and how we can help.
  • Labour Market and Migration Information System
    A labour market and migration information system is a labour market information system, including data and information in the field of employment, education and labour migration.

    Source: IOM. 2011. Best practices on collecting and sharing labour migration data for the improvement of the labour market information systems (LMISS). Click here
  • Labour mobility
    Temporary or short-term movements of persons for employment-related purposes, particularly in the context of the free movement of workers in regional economic communities.

    Source: ILO. 2018. Guidelines concerning statistics of international labour migration
  • Labour productivity
    Labour productivity is an important economic indicator that is closely linked to economic growth, competitiveness, and living standards within an economy. Labour productivity represents the total volume of output (measured in terms of Gross Domestic Product, GDP) produced per unit of labour (measured in terms of the number of employed persons) during a given time reference period.

    Source: Click here
  • Labour recruiters
    The term labour recruiter refers to both public employment services and private employment agencies and all other intermediaries or subagents that offer labour recruitment and placement services. Labour recruiters can take many forms, whether for profit or non-profit, or operating within or outside legal and regulatory frameworks.

    Source: ILO General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment, Section II. Definitions and Terms
  • Labour underutilisation
    Labour underutilization refers to mismatches between labour supply and demand, which translate into an unmet need for employment among the population. Measures of labour underutilization include time-related underemployment, unemployment, and the potential labour force. Other dimensions of underutilization of labour at the level of individuals as well as the economy are skills mismatches and slack work.

    Source: ILO Glossary of Statistical Terms
  • Learning outcomes
    The totality of information, knowledge, understanding, attitudes, values, skills, competencies or behaviours an individual is expected to master upon successful completion of an educational programme.

    Source: UNESCO-UNECOV TVETipedia Glossary.
  • Level descriptor
    A definition of the characteristics of a qualification that would lead to it being assigned to a particular level. Level descriptors may consist of a number of types of outcome, such as knowledge, skills, communicative competence etc.

    Source: Tuck, R. 2007. An introductory guide to national qualifications frameworks. ILO.
  • Lifelong Learning
    All learning activities undertaken throughout life for the development of competencies and qualifications.

    Source: ILO. 2006. Glossary of Key Terms on Learning and Training for Work

    Lifelong learning must cover learning from the pre-school age to that of post-retirement, including the entire spectrum of formal, non-formal and informal learning. Furthermore, lifelong learning must be understood as all learning activity undertaken throughout life, with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competences within a personal, civic, social and/or employment-related perspective.

    Source: Official Journal of the European Communities. Council Resolution of 27 June 2002 on lifelong learning (2002/C 163/01). Click here
  • Long-term migrant
    Long‐term migrant is “a person who moves to a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least a year (12 months), so that the country of destination effectively becomes his or her new country of usual residence. From the perspective of the country of departure the person will be a long‐term emigrant and from that of the country of arrival the person will be a long‐term immigrant.”

    Source: United Nations Recommendations on Statistics of International Migration (1998)
  • Low-skilled worker
    The International Standard Classification of Occupations classifies low-skilled work as mainly consisting of “simple and routine tasks which require the use of hand-held tools and often some physical effort”. It includes: office cleaners; freight holders; garden labourers, kitchen assistants (ISCO-08). By extension, a low-skilled worker could be defined as a person who undertakes low-skilled work.
    According to the International Standard Classification of Education - ISCED 2013, based on the level of education attainment, low-skilled workers are those on:
    Level 2 Lower secondary level of education
    Level 1 Primary level of education

    Source: Click here

M

  • Medium-skilled worker
    The International Standard Classification of Occupations classifies workers at a medium skill level (level 2) as “skilled manual workers”. Skilled-manual work is characterized by routine and repetitive tasks in cognitive and production activities. Medium-skilled workers include workers in occupations such as skilled agriculture and fishery, clerical work, craft and related trades and plant, machine operators and assemblers. (ISCO-08)
    According to International Standard Classification of Education - ISCED 2013, based on the level of education attainment, medium-skilled workers are those on:
    Level 4 Post-secondary, non-tertiary education
    Level 3 Upper secondary level of education

    Source: Click here
  • Migrant flow
    International migrant flow refers to the number of migrants entering or leaving a given country during a given period of time, usually one calendar year.

    Source: United Nations.2017. Handbook on Measuring International Migration through Population Censuses.
  • Migrant for employment/Migrant worker
    Migrant for employment. “A person who migrates from one country to another with a view to being employed otherwise than on his own account and includes any person regularly admitted as a migrant for employment.”

    Source: ILO Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949 (No. 97), Article 11

    Migrant worker. A person who “is to be engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a state of which he or she is not a national”

    Source: United Nations Convention on the Protection of the Rights of all Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, 1990, Article 2(1)). Click here
  • Migrant stock
    Migrant stock is a static measure of the number of persons that can be identified as international migrants at a given time.

    Source: United Nations. 2017. Handbook on Measuring International Migration through Population Censuses.
  • Migration cycle
    The process includes:
    • Preparation, including pre-departure training;
    • Movement/travel to the destination country;
    • Residence in the destination country, including any post-arrival training/activities;
    • Possible pathways to citizenship;
    • Return to the country of origin.

    Source: IOM. 2016. Regional Guidelines for the Development of Bilateral Labour Agreements in the Southern African Development Community. Click here
  • Mutual recognition agreements
    The recognition by one or more countries of qualifications (certificates or diplomas) awarded in one or more countries or across regions in one country.

    Source: Click here

N

  • National education policy
    All countries have an education policy that includes early childhood to higher education. Many national education policies target also vocational education and training, aiming at responding to the needs of the economy, addressing skills deficits through initial and continued training, technological developments, and competitiveness. These policies usually do not refer to migration issues. In some destination countries, there might be specific indications for the integration services of migrant workers through the recognition of migrants’ qualifications and skills and language skills development. Many countries have a national qualifications system, as the recognition of qualifications is important for both domestic labour markets and employment abroad

    Source: ILO. 2021. Manual on participatory assessment of policy coherence.
  • National employment policy
    A national employment policy is a vision and a practical, comprehensive plan for achieving a country’s employment goals. It creates a framework that involves and links all the stakeholders – government, international financial institutions, industry and employers’ and trade union organizations and civil society groups.

    Source: ILO. 2012. Guide for the formulation of national employment policies
  • National labour migration policy
    Articulation of an explicit national policy framework, strategy and/or action plan on migration is a natural first step towards defining a regime of migration governance. A national framework would usually spell out objectives for policy and action, including economic, developmental, social and political goals, as well as that of upholding and implementing the law. A policy framework would normally also identify the implementation measures and the requisite administrative structures to carry them out, supervise them and evaluate them, as well as designate or identify the roles and responsibilities of different branches of government and of other stakeholders, particularly social partners.

    Source: ILO International labour migration. A rights-based approach. 2010. pp. 218–219).
  • National Qualifications Frameworks
    A system for placing qualifications that meet certain standards of quality on one of a series of hierarchical levels.
    A qualifications framework is an instrument for the development and classification of qualifications according to a set of criteria for levels of learning achieved. This set of criteria may be implicit in the qualifications descriptors themselves or made explicit in the form of a set of level descriptors. The scope of frameworks may be comprehensive of all learning achievement and pathways, or may be confined to a particular sector for example initial education, adult education and training or an occupational area. Some frameworks may have more design elements and a tighter structure than others; some may have a legal basis whereas others represent a consensus of views of social partners. All qualifications frameworks, however, establish a basis for improving the quality, accessibility, linkages and public or labour market recognition of qualifications within a country and internationally.

    Source: Tuck, R. 2007. An introductory guide to national qualifications frameworks. ILO.
  • National Qualifications Systems
    All aspects of a country's activity that result in the recognition of learning.

    Source: Tuck, R. 2007. An introductory guide to national qualifications frameworks. ILO.
  • NEET – Not in Education, Employment or Training
    The share of youth not in education, employment or training (also known as “the NEET rate”) conveys the number of young persons not in education, employment or training as a percentage of the total youth population.

    Source: Click here

    In many countries, the youth labour situation is worrisome. Informality and vulnerable employment remain an unfortunate reality for the majority of employed youth around the world. Moreover, when they are not in employment, youth face difficulties accessing the labour market. This is reflected in high youth unemployment rates, high NEET (not in employment, education or training) rates, and the often difficult transition from school to work. In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the international community committed to increase youth employment opportunities and to substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in education, employment or training (SDG 8.6).

    Source: ILO Youth labour statistics.
  • Non-formal learning
    Learning taking place in activities not exclusively designated as learning activities, but which contain an important learning element. Non-formal learning takes place outside formal learning environments but within some kind of organisational framework. It arises from the learner’s conscious decision to master a particular activity, skill or area of knowledge and is thus the result of intentional effort.

    Source: Click here

O

  • Occupation
    Occupation refers to the kind of work performed in a job. The concept of occupation is defined as a “set of jobs whose main tasks and duties are characterized by a high degree of similarity”. A person may be associated with an occupation through the main job currently held, a second job, a future job or a job previously held.

    Source: ILO ISCO.
  • Occupational profiles
    Once skills needs have been identified, the next stage is to develop occupational profiles. In some countries, also indicated as occupational standards, they are used to develop competency-based curricula (or outcome-based curricula).

    Source: Click here

    An accupational skill profile summarises essential characteristics required for a given job: the level of education and training required (and hence the complexity of the occupation); the field of education and training required; and other requirements in terms of knowledge, skills, competence, occupational interests, and work values.

    Source: CEDEFOP. 2015. Quantifying skill needs in Europe.
  • Occupational standards
    The term “occupational standard” provides an official description of the specific competencies needed to carry out a particular occupation and the performance requirement to judge such competencies, as agreed by a representative sample of employers and other key stakeholders. Descriptions of occupational profiles or standards vary between countries.

    Source: Click here

P

  • Participatory assessment
    Assessment of policies/actions done with the participation of key decision makers, public and private organizations, social partners and beneficiaries.

    Source: ILO. 2021. Manual on participatory assessment of policy coherence.
  • Passive labour market policies
    Passive policies are comprised of unemployment insurance and benefits, redundancy and bankruptcy compensation, and early retirement.

    Source: What works: Active labour market policies and their joint provision with income support in emerging and developing economies. Click here
  • Permanent for-work international migrant
    Permanent for‐work international migrants, that is, for‐work international migrants with the intention of settling for a lifetime in the country of labour attachment or country of destination. For practical purposes, in the case of employees with labour contracts, permanent for‐work international migrants may be defined on the basis of the duration of the labour contract, such as those with labour contracts with a duration of 5 years or more.

    Source: ILO.2018. Guidelines concerning statistics of international labour migration
  • Pre-departure training
    Before their departure to the destination country, migrant workers “can be invited to attend an integration workshop aimed at providing hints and suggestions on visa and work permit procedures, documents to be prepared, relevant legislation protecting workers, institutions to contact in case of need, contacts with diaspora organizations in the receiving country, and so on”.

    Source: ILO. 2020. How to Facilitate the Recognition of Skills of Migrant Workers: Guide for Employment Services Providers. Click here
  • Prior learning
    The knowledge, know-how and/or competencies acquired through previously unrecognized training or experience.

    Source: UNEVOC/NCVER 2009.
  • Private employment agency (PrEA)
    According to the ILO Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (No. 181), the term private employment agency means any natural or legal person, independent of the public authorities, which provides one or more of the following labour market services:
    • services for matching offers of and applications for employment, without the private employment agency becoming a party to the employment relationships which may arise therefrom;
    • services consisting of employing workers with a view to making them available to a third party, who may be a natural or legal person (referred to below as a "user enterprise") which assigns their tasks and supervises the execution of these tasks;
    • other services relating to job seeking, determined by the competent authority after consulting the most representative employers and workers organizations, such as the provision of information, that do not set out to match specific offers of and applications for employment.


    Source: ILO Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (No. 181)
  • Public employment service
    Public employment services are government institutions that plan and execute many of the labour market policies governments use to help workers enter the labour market, to facilitate labour market adjustments, and to cushion the impact of economic transitions.

    Source: ILO. 2016. Practitioners’ guides on employment service centres - Operating employment service centres. Volume 2

Q

  • Qualification
    The official confirmation, usually in the form of a document certifying the successful completion of an educational programme or of a stage of a programme. Qualifications can be obtained through: i) successful completion of a full programme; ii) successful completion of a stage of a programme (intermediate qualifications); or iii) validation of acquired knowledge, skills and competencies, independent of participation in such programmes. This may also be referred to as a ‘credential’.

    Source: Click here
  • Quality Assurance
    Processes and procedures for ensuring that qualifications, assessment and programme delivery meet certain standards.

    Source: Tuck, R. 2007. An introductory guide to national qualifications frameworks. ILO.

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  • Recognition of prior learning
    “A process of identifying, documenting, assessing and certifying formal, non-formal and/or informal learning against standards used in formal education and training. Thus, recognition of prior learning provides an opportunity to people to acquire qualification or credits for a qualification or exemptions (of all or part of the curriculum, or even exemption of academic pre-requisite to enter a formal study programme) without going through a formal education or training programme”.

    Source: ILO 2018. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL): Learning Package
  • Recognition of skills and qualifications
    The recognition of qualifications and skills covers two main areas: academic and professional. Academic recognition allows for the continuation of studies at the appropriate level, as well as facilitating access to an appropriate job. Professional recognition provides the opportunity to practise professional skills acquired abroad.
    Professional recognition covers both regulated and non-regulated professions. Regulated professions are usually governed by legal acts requiring registration, certification or licensing. Non-regulated professions do not imply any specific process, as the employer assesses qualifications and professional competency.

    Source: ILO.2020. The role of social partners in skills development, recognition and matching for migrant workers - A contribution to the Global Skills Partnership. (p. 17) Click here
  • Recruitment
    Recruitment means −
    (i) the engagement of a person in one territory on behalf of an employer in another territory, or
    (ii) the giving of an undertaking to a person in one territory to provide him with employment in another territory, together with the making of any arrangements in connection with the operations mentioned in (i) and (ii) including the seeking for and selection of emigrants and the preparation for departure of the emigrants.

    Source: ILO Migration for Employment Recommendation (Revised), 1949 (No. 86), para. 1(b)

    The term recruitment includes the advertising, information dissemination, selection, transport, placement into employment and – for migrant workers – return to the country of origin where applicable. This applies to both jobseekers and those in an employment relationship”.

    Source: ILO General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment, II. Definitions and terms, Click here
  • Recruitment fees or related costs
    The terms recruitment fees or related costs refer to any fees or costs incurred in the recruitment process in order for workers to secure employment or placement, regardless of the manner, timing or location of their imposition or collection.
    Recruitment fees include:
    a. payments for recruitment services offered by labour recruiters, whether public or private, in matching offers of and applications for employment;
    b. payments made in the case of recruitment of workers with a view to employing them to perform work for a third party;
    c. payments made in the case of direct recruitment by the employer; or
    d. payments required to recover recruitment fees from workers.
    The following non-exhaustive list indicates which costs should be considered related to the recruitment process: i) Medical costs: including medical examinations, tests or vaccinations; ii) Insurance costs; iii) Costs for skills and qualification tests to verify workers’ language proficiency and level of skills and qualifications; iv).Expenses for required trainings, including pre-departure or post-arrival orientation; v) Costs for tools, uniforms, safety gear, and other equipment needed to perform assigned work safely and effectively; vi) Expenses incurred for travel, lodging and subsistence within or across national borders in the recruitment process, including for training, interviews, consular appointments, relocation, and return or repatriation; vii) Administrative costs: These could include fees for representation and services aimed at preparing, obtaining or legalizing workers’ employment contracts, identity documents, passports, visas, background checks, security and exit clearances, banking services, and work and residence permits.

    Source: ILO. General principles and operational guidelines for fair recruitment and Definition of recruitment fees and related costs. Click here
  • Refugee
    A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. A person is an asylum seeker until they are determined to be a refugee in accordance with national and international law.

    Source: UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951).
  • Regional economic communities
    The Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are regional groupings of African states. The RECs have developed individually and have differing roles and structures. Generally, the purpose of the RECs is to facilitate regional economic integration between members of the individual regions and through the wider African Economic Community (AEC), which was established under the Abuja Treaty (1991).

    Source: Regional Economic Communities (RECs) Click here

    With the same common scope of economic development, other regional communities have been established in other Continents, such as the Caribbean area (CARICOM) and in Asia (ASEAN)

    Source: Click here, Click here
  • Reintegration
    A process which enables returnees to regain their physical, social, legal and material security needed to maintain life, livelihood and dignity, and which eventually leads to the disappearance of any observable distinctions vis-à-vis their compatriots.

    Source: UNHCR. 2006. Master Glossary of Terms. Rev. 1.
  • Re-training
    Supplementary training that enables individuals to acquire new skills.
    Article 33(c) of the ILO Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience Recommendation, to “facilitate the recognition, certification, accreditation and use of skills and qualifications of refugees through appropriate mechanisms, and provide access to tailored training and retraining opportunities, including intensive language training” (p. 122).

    Source: ILO. 2020. Skills Development and Lifelong Learning. Resource Guide for Workers’ Organizations.
  • Return international migrant workers
    The concept of return international migrant workers is intended to provide a basis for measuring the work experience of persons returning after being international migrant workers abroad. For the country of measurement, return international migrant workers are defined as all current residents of the country who were previously international migrant workers in another country or countries. In particular:
    (a) the measurement of return international migrant workers does not depend on the current labour force status of persons in the country of current residence. Return international migrant workers may include persons currently outside the labour force or outside the potential labour force, or persons no longer engaged in any form of work in the country of current residence;
    (b) return international migrant workers include those current residents of the country of measurement who were working aboard without being usual residents of the country in which they worked (corresponding to category 14(b) (not usual residents) of international migrant workers as given above);
    (c) it is recommended that the chosen minimum duration of labour attachment abroad for a person to be considered as a return international migrant worker be relatively short, such as 6 months, calculated on a cumulative basis for workers with repeated spells of migration;
    (d) it is recommended that the reference period for the date of return, i.e., the maximum time elapsed since the return of the person to the country of current residence for them to be included in the count (stock) of return international migrant workers in that country, should be relatively long, such as last 12 months or last 5 years, or it may be left open and then classified by date of return.

    Source: ILO.2018. Guidelines concerning statistics of international labour migration. (para. 23)
  • Return migrants
    Return migrants are “persons returning to their country of citizenship after having been international migrants (whether short-term or long-term) in another country and who are intending to stay in their own country for at least a year”.

    Source: Recommendations on Statistics of International Migration, Revision 1 (1998).

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  • Seasonal migrant worker
    A migrant worker “whose work by its character is dependent on seasonal conditions and is performed only during certain part of the year”.

    Source: United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, Article 2(1), Click here
  • Self-Employment
    Self-employment jobs are those jobs where the remuneration is directly dependent upon the profits (or the potential for profits) derived from the goods and services produced (where own consumption is considered to be part of profits).The incumbents make the operational decisions affecting the enterprise, or delegate such decisions while retaining responsibility for the welfare of the enterprise. (In this context “enterprise" includes one-person operations.)

    Source: ICLS. 1993. Resolution concerning the International Classification of Status in Employment (ICSE). (Para. 7) Click here

    Self-employed workers include four sub-categories of employers, own-account workers, members of producers' cooperatives, and contributing family workers. Source: ILO. KILM 3. Status in employment.
  • Short-term migrant
    A person who moves to a country other than that of his or her usual residence for a period of at least 3 months, but less than a year (12 months) except in cases where the movement to that country is for purposes of recreation, holiday, visits to friends or relatives, business, medical treatment or religious pilgrimage.

    Source: United Nations Recommendations on Statistics of International Migration (1998)
  • Skills
    Skills are the ability to carry out the tasks and duties of a given job.

    Source: ISCO-88

    Skills refer to the relevant knowledge and experience needed to perform a specific task or job and /or the product of education, training and experience which, together with relevant know-how, are the characteristics of technical knowledge.

    Source: UNESCO-UNEVOC TVETipedia Glossary.
  • Skills Anticipation
    Skills anticipation is a strategic and systematic process through which labour market actors identify and prepare to meet future skills needs, thus helping to avoid potential gaps between skills demand and supply. Skills anticipation enables training providers, young people, policy-makers, employers and workers to make better educational and training choices, and through institutional mechanisms and information resources leads to improved use of skills and human capital development.

    Source: ILO. Anticipating and matching skills and jobs.
  • Skills development
    The development of skills or competencies which are relevant to the workforce.

    Source: UNESCO-UNEVOC TVETipedia Glossary.

    The full range of formal and non-formal vocational, technical and skills-based education and training for employment and/or self-employment, including: pre-employment and livelihood skills training; vocational education and training and apprenticeships; education and training for employed workers, including workplace training; and employment-oriented and job-related short courses.

    Source: ILO. 2020. Skills Development and Lifelong Learning – Resource Guide for Workers’ Organizations. Click here
  • Skill gap
    Type or level of skills is different from that required to adequately perform the job.

    Source: ILO. 2014. Skills mismatch in Europe. Statistics Brief.
  • Skill level
    Indicates the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation.

    Source: ISCO 88.

    Skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. Skill level is measured operationally by considering one or more of:
    • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties defined for each ISCO-08 skill level;
    • the level of formal education defined in terms of the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED-97) (UNESCO, 1997) required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved; and
    • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
    Source: ILO ISCO.
  • Skills matching
    A complex and dynamic process involving multiple stakeholders making multiple decisions at different times: individuals and their families, as they make decisions regarding their own education and training; education, training and labour market policy-makers, as they decide on the configuration of education and training systems, employment policies and investments; training institutions, as they make decisions on the type and content of the training courses to be delivered; and employers, as they take decisions on how to train workers and use skills.

    Source: European Training Foundation - European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training - International Labour Office 2016.(p.5) Click here
  • Skills mismatch
    Skill mismatch refers to a situation in which a person in employment, during the reference period, occupied a job whose skills requirements did not correspond to the skills they possesses. Skill mismatch may refer to mismatch of overall skills or to types of skills. The mismatch by type of skills includes: (a) mismatch of job-specific/technical skills; (b) mismatch of basic skills; (c) mismatch of transferable skills. A person in employment may experience: – Over-skilling, which occurs when the level and/or types of skills of the person in employment exceeds those required to perform their job. – Under-skilling, which occurs when the level and/or types of skills of the person in employment is lower than those required to perform their job

    Source: Report 3: Report of the Conference, Twentieth International Conference of Labour Statisticians, Geneva, 10-19 October 2018, ICLS/20/2018/3 (Geneva). Page 130. Click here
  • Skills modules in bilateral labour migration agreements
    Bilateral labour migration agreements are increasingly used as a tool for governing labour migration. Skills aspects are rarely considered in all phases of the design, negotiation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of these agreements. This is despite the fact that addressing skill shortages is often a central motivation for entering into these agreements, particularly for destination countries. Specific guidelines have been designed by the ILO to offer to policy-makers, social partners and development practitioners’ useful indications on how to tackle skills issues in BLMAs in all sectors, while at the same time enhancing the protection of migrant workers’ rights.

    Source: ILO. 2020. Guidelines for skills modules in bilateral labour migration agreements.
  • Skills passport
    A skills passport is a tool or document allowing people to record their skills, competences and knowledge. These can be the result of formal, informal or non-formal learning.

    Source: Click here
  • Skills portability
    Portability of skills is defined by ILO’s Recommendation No. 195 as: a) employable skills which can be used productively in different jobs, occupations, industries; and, b) Certification and recognition of skills within national and international labour markets. The transferability of skills is essential to migrant workers as they move from countries of origin to countries of destination, and as they return back home with newly acquired skills.

    Source: ILO Human Resources Development Recommendation, 2004 (No. 195)
  • Soft skills
    A set of intangible personal qualities, traits, attributes, habits and attitudes that can be used in many different types of jobs.

    Source: UNESCO-UNEVOC TVETipedia Glossary.

    Examples of soft skills include: empathy, leadership, sense of responsibility, integrity, self-esteem, self-management, motivation, flexibility, sociability, time management and making decisions. The term is also used in contrast to ‘hard’ skills that are considered as more technical, highly specific in nature and particular to an occupation, and that can be (generally) taught more easily than soft skills.

    Source: Click here

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  • Temporary migrant
    Temporary for‐work international migrants, that is, for‐work international migrants entering the country of labour attachment or country of destination with the intention of stay for a limited period of time period, which may be less or more than 12 months.

    Source: ILO. 2018. Guidelines concerning statistics of international labour migration
  • Training Fund
    A ‘training fund’ is a dedicated stock or flow of financing outside normal government budgetary channels for the purpose of developing productive skills for work”.

    Source: Johanson, R. 2009. A Review of National
    Training Funds. SP Discussion paper No. 0922. World Bank. Page 3. Click here

    Training funds can be national or regional covering a range of sectors, or can be sectoral, or industry specific. They can be financed by employer levies, public subsidies or donor financing or a combination of all three. Many funds are managed by statutory, quasi-autonomous bodies under the general umbrella of a government ministry or of management councils and boards with varying degrees of autonomy and stakeholder representation. Many countries have established sector skills funds or national training funds.

    Source: ILO Policy Brief. The Role of Employers in Skills Development Systems. August 2020
  • Transferable skills
    Skills that can be introduced in a different socio-cultural or technical environment, or that can be used in other occupations.

    Source: UNESCO-UNEVOC TVETipedia Glossary.
  • Transition from the informal to the formal economy
    The Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015 (No. 204), adopted by the International Labour Conference (ILC) in June 2015, is the first international instrument dealing specifically with the informal economy.
    This Recommendation provides guidance to Members to: (a) facilitate the transition of workers and economic units from the informal to the formal economy, while respecting workers’ fundamental rights and ensuring opportunities for income security, livelihoods and entrepreneurship; (b) promote the creation, preservation and sustainability of enterprises and decent jobs in the formal economy and the coherence of macroeconomic, employment, social protection and other social policies; and (c) prevent the informalization of formal economy jobs.

    Source: Transition from the Informal to the Formal Economy Recommendation, 2015 (No. 204).
  • TVET - Technical & Vocational Education and Training
    Technical and vocational education and training’ (TVET) is understood as comprising education, training and skills development relating to a wide range of occupational fields, production, services and livelihoods.
    TVET, as part of lifelong learning, can take place at secondary, post-secondary and tertiary levels and includes work-based learning and continuing training and professional development which may lead to qualifications. TVET also includes a wide range of skills development opportunities attuned to national and local contexts. Learning to learn, the development of literacy and numeracy skills, transversal skills and citizenship skills are integral components of TVET.

    Source: UNESCO-UNEVOC TVETipedia Glossary.

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  • Unemployment
    Persons in unemployment are defined as all those of working age who were not in employment, carried out activities to seek employment during a specified recent period and were currently available to take up employment given a job opportunity.

    Source: 19th ICLS. Resolution concerning statistics of work, employment and labour underutilization. Click here
  • Unemployment rate
    The unemployment rate expresses the number of unemployed as a percent of the labour force.

    Source: ILO Glossary of statistical terms
  • Up-skilling
    Training that supplements and updates existing knowledge, skills and/or competencies.

    Source: ILO. 2020. Skills Development and Lifelong Learning. Resource Guide for Workers’ Organizations. Click here

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  • Validation of prior learning
    Process of identifying, documenting, assessing and certifying formal, non-formal and/or informal learning against standards used in formal education and training. Thus, RPL provides an opportunity to people to acquire qualification or credits for a qualification or exemptions (of all or part of the curriculum, or even exemption of academic pre-requisite to enter a formal study programme) without going through a formal education or training programme.

    Source: ILO. 2018. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL): Learning Package.

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