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“Education and training 2020 - giving today's young people the workplace skills they will need”


27 May 2016


EU Priorities 2020
Social Europe & Jobs

-EU Experts discussed how to make sure that education and training systems promote the employability, skills and innovation young people need, and increase social mobility and equality at a recent ACCA-PwC conference in Brussels- As reported in the 19th PwC Annual Global CEO survey, 72% of CEOs are concerned about finding staff with key skills. SMEs are also faced with finding people with relevant skills at a time where skills are so decisive for innovation capacity, productivity and competitiveness. So how can policy makers assist business in reducing this gap?  

Seeking to shed some light on this important question, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and PwC, in collaboration with MEP Martina Dlabajova, and under the patronage of the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU, organised a conference in Brussels. Its main aim was to raise awareness of the economic benefits of investing in the skills of young people and to share best practices.

The panel was composed of distinguished experts from the European Commission, the European Parliament and Council, the education/qualifications and training world, from the employer and youth side. They namely discussed how to make sure that education and training systems do promote the employability, skills and innovation young people need, and increase social mobility and equality.

Mary Bishop, Director of Learning at ACCA opened the debate: “Ensuring a better long-term matching between the supply of skills and labour market demands is vital for both Europe's short-term recovery and longer-term growth and competitiveness.

Bridging the gap between the worlds of education and work, providing quality education, and also of course increasing social mobility and equality, all resonates particularly with my day-to-day activities as Director of Learning within a global qualification body. Reflecting on the ET2020’s objectives, and the EU Agenda on new skills for new jobs to address challenges in education and training systems by 2020, I see a close alignment with the themes being explored by the accountancy profession”.

Martina Dlabajova, MEP said: “It might take two to tango but it takes much more to give today´s young people the workplace skills they will need. We, as policy-makers have to enhance their employability via practical experiences, access to workplaces and meeting their future employers. Also, it is very important to encourage them to learn more languages which can help them to perform jobs across borders. Mobility is vital. I also believe that entrepreneurship must be part of the education curriculum, which should put more emphasis on managerial skills and economic knowledge.

I look forward for the Commission’s forthcoming new skills Agenda for Europe, expected on 7th June, to give us fresh guidelines. I do recommend with all my heart to learn and apply the best practices we see in our home states. To conclude, I would say that what is worse than not recognising talent, is to recognise talent and then not use it. Therefore the EU must make use of talent”.

Discussions revealed that the labour market and societal challenges require a strong educational and training base, with a good combination of generic, academic and professional skills. VET (vocational education and training) is a central piece, notably WBL (work based learning)and apprenticeships including higher VET. The debate also highlighted the urgent need for developing more entrepreneurial spirit, with a strong focus on digital skills. It is vital to cultivate work readiness and entrepreneurship competence from early on at school to make the link between theory and practice. The importance of business-education partnerships and collaboration with national operators was also strongly stressed.

Existing initiatives, such as Education and Training 2020 (ET 2020), Europe 2020 strategy, the European skills agenda and the EU Semester should be better streamlined to get optimal results and consistency, and should further focus on modernisation of E&T systems, as well as on quality of learning outcomes. We must ensure that there is strong policy support in the national education plans.

Gilly Lord, Head of Regulation at  PwC UK, concluded: “The issue we discussed today is supremely important. There are immense economic and social benefits that could be gained in this area. If we get the issue of skills right, there are huge rewards for businesses as well. One of the key things is for the private sector to collaborate with the public sector and governments.

At PwC, we have been very transparent about the skills we are looking for in our employees. It is not about ‘A’ levels or which university someone had been to. It is about whether they can collaborate, work in teams, lead and continue to learn. PwC has recently made big changes in the recruiting process so that more doors can be opened to people with different backgrounds, and we are fully transparent about the skills we need , they are accessible to people from all backgrounds interested in a career with us . We hope to continue the debate in order to find practical answers to move forward”.



ACCA: The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants


About ACCA

For further information: Cecile Bonino Head of EU Affairs , tel: +32 (0) 2 286 11 37or

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. It offers business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.

ACCA supports its 178,000 members and 455,000 students in 181 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 95 offices and centres and more than 7,110 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. It believes that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. ACCA’s core values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and it ensures that through its range of qualifications, it prepares accountants for business. ACCA seeks to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating its qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers. More information is here:

About PwC

At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 208,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see for further details.


Cecile Bonino

Head of EU Affairs

CBI business house
14 rue de la Science
BE-1040 Brussels
Tel:+32 (0) 2 286 11 37
Mob: +44 (0) 7809595008


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