Many of the jobs in the next two decades simply do not exist today. Regardless of economic sector - retail, automotive, logistics, tourism, manufacturing or telecom- the transformation of industrial processes is upon us! However- are Europeans equipped and in the right skills ‘gear’ for a more digitally driven economy?
Preparing for Europe 2020 jobs
The recent launch of the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs by Lazlo Andor, Commissioner for Employment, and Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, set a healthy tone for discussion at the Employment Week 2010 in Brussels at the end of November. This is indeed a welcome fresh impetus for action to raise labour market intelligence and to secure a higher degree of skills matching and labour market participation. Employment Week explored new demographics in the workforce, the most interesting being, an expected decline of low skilled workers to 12 million and an increase of high-skilled workers to 16 million by 2020. That means, we have ten years to refine and adapt the workforce! It is in the hands of industry, government and the third sector to upskill for innovation and prepare for this new era. To drive the greatest innovation potential in industry, it is essential to match the emergence of new and dynamic industrial processes with training platforms that reflect these changes in the market.
We are talking about a responsive education and learning system, as Commissioner Vassiliou highlighted:
“Today it is more than ever crucial that all citizens receive high quality education and training to equip them with the skills they need to find work. Lifelong learning must become a reality in Europe. For that to happen, a joint effort of all partners – governments, employers, trade unions and citizens – is essential.’’
In the same light- the intervention of Dr Jonathan Liebenau from The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), at Employment Week, reinforced the rapidity at which we must ensure job mobility in the labour market. More jobs will migrate towards higher skilled level workers which has a multiplier effect in terms of job creation. This transition has longer lasting effects on the economy. Job descriptions are shifting and the knock on effects impact the investment being made in different kinds of training.
A critical turning point for Europe to help boost the current 69% employment rate to 75% by 2020 – as foreseen in the EU 2020 strategy- is nurturing a digital ready workforce. Kristin Schreiber, Head of Unit International Affairs and Enlargement, DG Employment, puts forward that this evolution from digital literacy to digital fluency will be key. I too firmly support that eSkills are critical for inclusion, critical for competitiveness and critical for innovation. We must culture a learning environment for Gen Y that empowers knowledge in science and technology as an ongoing process, from school through to work experience, to curb a potential shortage of one million researchers by 2015. Programs like the Microsoft Students to Business initiative that provides a scalable online matching platform for professional experience with technology SMEs must be extended in breadth and depth. To help us demystify where jobs are heading, a recent survey with Microsoft partners revealed that those planning to recruit in the next 12 months would have the most frequent openings for Net Developers and Web Developers for both graduates and interns!
We envisage that the following three recent measures raised by the Commission will serve as a broad engine to channel the right human capital to feed European innovation. This is namely the creation of a European skills passport to help job seekers identify their skills, the European skills, competences and occupations taxonomy (ESCO) which will act as a common dictionary connecting skills and competencies to occupations and an EU skills panorama by 2012 that will forecast available skills and companies’ needs until 2020.
The success of the new world of work and the employability of the next generation is surely dependent on the investment we collectively make today.