Evolving EU labour market: matching graduates’ skills with employers’ needs

Nowadays, all the initiatives addressing the skills gap and youth unemployment in Europe seem not to be enough. On this matter, EU40 organised a discussion bringing together various stakeholders. EU policy-makers, youth organisations, civil society representatives and the private sector debated on future needed skills.

More and more graduates feel that the job market is running faster than their own professional development. To understand how EU policy-makers could address the future of work major challenges, the discussion focused on different narratives.

“Learn-ability” and the importance of soft skills for graduates 

Eva Maydell (EPP, Bulgaria) raised the first point: training. Employers may ask why they should train people that may eventually leave the company one day. Well, because they may actually not!

Countries should be supported in offering training opportunities. This way, young people would not suffer the impact of corporate cultures that tend to hire already expert workers. Unfortunately, the gap between graduates’ skills and employers’ needs is becoming wider and wider. As such, the European Union should take action to keep the labour market competitive and successful.

Eva Maydell added that, nowadays, learning is no longer limited to University, but it continues throughout every person’s life time. So, it is important to take into account the “learn-ability”. This is the ability to adapt ourselves to new technologies and develop new skills. Today the situation is stalled: on the one hand there are high-skilled unemployed; on the other hand, companies are looking for high-skilled employees. In this situation young graduates and students cannot keep up.

Importance should be gvien to soft skills, those that a robot cannot reproduce. Technology is weaving the foundation of labour market and soft skills might be the ones helping young people find jobs. Eva Maydell concluded that there should be more concrete projects supporting the talent revolution. These projects should transform the education systems and close the gap between skills and actual needs of employers. 

What is the Economic Graph? Some evidence on the data analysis of LinkedIn profiles

John Herlihy (LinkedIn) went through LinkedIn recent analysis on the data collected from their members. LinkedIn has developed a new tool called the “Economic Graph”, based on the data of members and companies on LinkedIn. The data analysis allows LinkedIn to have a real-time picture of how the labour market at a global level.

The global dimension is clearly given by the use of this social media around the world. The real time dimension is ensured by the short delay between obtaining a job and updating the LinkedIn profiles. The Economic Graph is also useful for those countries that do not have data on the development of their own labour markets and skills. Thanks to this tool, governments could better orient their future labour market policies.

The Economic Graph also gives information on what skills are valued by the members when building up their profiles. The nature of the skills has changed over the years. Currently, without surprise, creativity, persuasion, adaptability, problem solving and tother soft skills are becoming more and more important. However, LinkedIn has recently encountered problems in defining “soft skills”. In fact, at times, the words suggested do not actually express all the nuances of some skills. To solve this problem, LinkedIn has decided to expand the vocabulary to ensure full coverage of all nuances.

European Commission tools: where do we stand? 

Aura Salla, Advisor at the European Political Strategy Centre, analysed the measures that the European Commission has already put into play to enable workers to develop a life-learning experience. In fact, there are some measures that Europeans already enjoy especially when moving across Europe. Schengen agreements not only encourage people to explore Europe. They also give them the possibility to enter the labour market of another country and share their own knowledge. The EURES portal shares vacancies and allows companies to get in touch with qualified people in different European countries. To further enhance mobility, the Commission is also working on simplifying the equivalence process of qualifications.

Aura Salla also underlined the importance of traineeships that could bridge the gap between universities and the world of work. However, she mentioned that traineeships should not become permanent. This type of experience ensures that people can have the opportunity to be up skilled. At the same time, students should not forget that they have the right to be taken seriously one day.

What is happening in the Brussels Bubble?

Arthur Skenazi, Labour Market Expert at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, analysed the Brussels labour market. Brussels is the perfect scenario in which the implementation of labour market policies can be clearly seen. In fact, even if Brussels represents one geographical entity, its labour market does not follow the same model.

Arthur Skenazi argued that there are students that are supported and encouraged by their universities to undergo traineeships. However, despite the positive correlation between having a diploma and a traineeship, 15-20% of students that is left behind. Even if a low percentage, Arthur Skenazi claimed that it is worth to invest in the future of disadvantaged students. In this senses, Brussels could showcase the effects of certain policies, giving a hint of what works and what still needs to be done.

The role of self-learning online softwares

The last topic raised was the softwares that help individuals learning new skills or updating those already acquired. These tools have been developed to allow those outside university to update and learn skills. However, should we worry about these new types of softwares? Arthur Skenazi thought that these tools are indeed completing the offer of traditional providers. The presence of these softwares allows adults to access training and encourages workers to develop their adaptability.

By Irene Grazi


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