Skills and human capital

With the rise of the internet and the rapid pace of technological development, the digitization of society has become an accepted phenomenon.

In connection with this, jobs and professions are becoming increasingly specialized and technical, which raises new challenges for Europe’s workforce. Especially for workers who are further in their careers or who are older, it is important to remain skilled and employable. To a growing extent, Life Long Learning is the responsibility of workers, rather than employers. One of the risks of this shift in responsibility is an increasing qualifications mismatch between supply and demand on the labour market. This trend has set in during the past decades largely as a result of the rapidly increasing importance of ICT in European societies and work.

For this reason the EU seeks to improve the employability of its work force and to encourage workers to continue educating themselves throughout their careers. With the changing nature of jobs and professions it is vital that the requirements for today’s jobs are met by workers with the right, relevant skills. This calls for a proactive approach to raising awareness of this fact amongst Europeans, as well as to encourage and facilitate Life Long Learning (to use the EU’s terminology). This understandably has a strong relationship with the policy areas of education, specifically with adult vocation training and education. This goal to make sure that Europe’s human capital remains at a high level and that the workforce remains employable, are important to both the EU economy and to the individual worker.

Closely related to the areas of helping workers to employment and the areas of vocational education and training, is the subject of qualifications. Without relevant qualification requirements for students and workers alike, helping people to achieve the necessary skills and expertise for the labour market is difficult. For this reason, the EU and consequently Panteia, have devoted considerable attention to developing, implementing and updating qualification frameworks, among which EQF, in terms of desired competences and learning outcomes. The issue of qualifications is one which comes up in a variety of policy areas, namely in basic education, vocational education and training, in education reform, reducing skills mismatches and in promoting European labour mobility to name a few.

The EU, other European bodies and NGOs alike have therefore pointed to the importance of focusing on skills and on maintaining human capital. The European Social Fund (ESF) is an important tool in this and one of its key priorities is to boost the adaptability of workers with new skills, and enterprises with new ways of working. Other priorities focus on improving access to employment, for instance by helping young people make the transition from school to work, or training less-skilled job-seekers to improve their job prospects.

In this spirit Panteia has carried out a number of international studies in this area to investigate how skills and human capital can best be encouraged and maintained. Some of Panteia’s recent projects include investigating how gaps in skills and professions can be addressed and resolved, as well as studies on the professional requirements for teachers of adult vocational training and education.

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