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Jobs of tomorrow: what educational skills do we need?


09 Jun 2017


Euro & Finance
Social Europe & Jobs

EU stakeholders and decision-makers discussed what has been achieved since the publication of the new Skills Agenda for Europe, and what the next steps might be, at  ACCA-PwC event at the European Parliament.

Skills are extremely important for the future of Europe: the right skills can help create the right Europe. This is a priority for all the EU institutions. A recent ACCA (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and PwC joint conference in Brussels at the European Parliament, hosted by European Parliamentarians Martina Dlabajova and Momchil Nekov, co-rapporteurs on the new skills agenda for Europe report, confirmed the focus has shifted towards matching skills with jobs, and anticipating future needs together with labour market reforms.

Martina Dlabajova, MEP said : “whilst skills mismatch is a concern, in parallel, we need to closely look at different aspects, especially at the future employability of people. Our joint report is based on a series of questions: are we giving our citizens the right skills for the future jobs? Are we giving them the skills that employers look for? Do we combine enough theoretical skills with practical ones?  Are we giving them the opportunity to learn, for example, how to set up and run their own businesses, how to be an entrepreneur?

“It is also about a can-do attitude, courage to try new things and take advantage of opportunities. To foster an entrepreneurial mind-set, young people need to be mentored and motivated. They need to listen to real success and failure stories and find out how the real world is working.”

There was a general agreement that to enhance people’s employability, there is an urgent need for more focus on entrepreneurship education and for more work-based learning, without forgetting promoting VET as an education. The importance of  labour mobility was also stressed, as it helps the flow of skills across borders in Europe, and also in the context of legal migration. Some speakers called also for an estimation of future skills needs, in particular for certain sectors, like the ICT sector and the evolving digital environment.

To achieve these goals we must act immediately. Every change we make in education now will be seen only after 10-15 years. We need enhanced cooperation between all labour market stakeholders, with involvement of education systems, businesses and policy makers. Employers need to be involved in the development of educational programmes of the future, and skills development must be a shared responsibility between formal education providers and employers.

Peter Norriss, PwC, said : “One of the big challenges across Europe is there are many people in entry-level jobs that are not getting the support they need to step up into higher level jobs. The Sheffield City Skills bank tries to maximise people’s experiences and create new opportunities for people to step up in their careers. This is what helps companies grow and creates prosperity within the region. Having the right skills systems helps attracting more investment.

“We need to take a real look at the skill system and whether qualifications are the thing that we should be measuring. There is no doubt that qualifications help when starting a career, but later on employers want to see experience, skills and competence”.

Momchil Nekov, MEP, stressed that the Skills Agenda needs to refocus on the role of non-formal education. He said:  “Employers want soft skills such as team working, resilience, leadership and sense of initiative, while in the same time only 25% of them offer apprenticeships.  Recruiters don’t look for diplomas anymore, but look for individuals having the so-called horizontal skills, such as the capacity of adaptation, the ability to cope with challenging workload, as well as entrepreneurial spirit and self-confidence.

“Do we really learn those skills in the classroom? In fact, we don’t, and we learn much more outside the formal education systemBut to expect a change of any kind, we should first change our mentalities.”

Maggie Mc Ghee, Director of Professional insights at ACCA, concluded: “Recent alarming data shows that 40% of European employers cannot find people with the right skills to grow and innovate and 77% of Global CEOs are concerned that a shortage of key skills could impair their company’s growth. We live in a rapidly evolving world where skills required by employers are changing. It is vital that the jobs of tomorrow are fit for purpose.  We live in an interconnected world, we need digital skills. Apprenticeships and traineeships need to be supported because they are the main instrument to fight youth unemployment. Projects for seniors are not less important. We need to work together to see what we can do to support the workplace for tomorrow.”


Note to Editors

 About ACCA

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

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 188,000 members and 480,000 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:


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