A serious threat to Europe's future competitiveness: the mismatch between skills that are needed and skills that young people offer when they arrive on the job market.
By Jeannette Weisschuh, Director Economic Progress, Corporate Affairs, HP
It seems incredible that at a time when there are more than five million unemployed young people in Europe, companies continue to experience difficulty hiring suitably skilled staff, especially in the IT industry.
This mismatch between skills that are needed and skills that young people offer when they arrive on the job market is not new news; but if we allow it to continue, we seriously threaten Europe’s future competitiveness. Combine this with the fact that many of our young people, particularly women, don’t see IT as an attractive career option and you begin to see the scale of the problem.
Leading with Technology
For the past 20 years, technology has been reshaping everything we do – from how we work to how we live. Unfortunately, educational systems and approaches across Europe have not kept pace and this is now beginning to really hold us back. Although governments are taking steps to address this challenge, the pace of change is still agonizingly slow, and the question for policy makers and education providers still remains: how can education remain relevant in this rapidly changing environment?
For stakeholders in the technology and education spaces, finding solutions to these problems is one of our challenges and responsibility. That’s why supporting business campaigns like CSR Europe’s Skills for Jobs is so critical.
Launched last year, the campaign is mobilizing CSR Europe’s 5,000-strong member network by bringing together policy makers, education providers and technology businesses to see how individual e-skills initiatives can be strengthened through stronger collaboration and find better ways to scale the most promising solutions.
CSR Europe: Collaborating to Move Forward
As part of its campaign activity, CSR Europe has also made a pledge to support the European Commission’s Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs. This pledge will tackle the existing gaps between business needs and education relevance to stimulate further growth in the e-skills job market. But if we don’t act decisively now, it may well be too late to change the tide for Europe’s youth.
As a member of CSR Europe’s Board and Steering Committee, I am proud to say that HP is actively supporting this approach.
We have been working closely with policy-makers and educators for the past 75 years to develop solutions and programs that use technology to expand the horizons of what education can deliver. Our experience has shown us that public-private partnerships—where businesses, NGOs and governments work together with a single aim—are the most successful.
Living Progress: Creating Jobs, Stimulating Economic Growth
Collaborating with leading partners in the education field, we have developed HP LIFE eLearning, a global, online training program that is accessed directly by self-paced learners and also used by educators, trainers and mentors to enrich their curriculum. Part of HP Living Progress – our vision for creating a better future for everyone through our actions and innovations – HP LIFE e-Learning enables people to gain the business and IT skills that help create jobs and stimulate economic growth.
Powered by HP technology, the program is available in six languages, including English, French, Portuguese and Spanish, and e-learners currently have access to 23 modular courses, support from HP experts, a wealth of online resources and a global community platform for peer-to-peer and peer-to-expert exchanges. New courses, services, support and languages are being added on a regular basis to keep the program interesting and up to date for users.
Since its launch in November 2012, HP LIFE e-Learning has reached over one million people globally, many from Europe, and shown promising results.
However, while programs like HP LIFE e-Learning can play a strong role in closing the e-skills gap, with 70 percent of students currently in secondary education destined to work in jobs that do not even exist yet, it’s clear that much more needs to be done.
All of us—from governments to businesses and NGOs to education providers—need to be working closely together to ensure our young people are prepared for success in the real world and to show them how technology offers amazing new career opportunities in a range of different industries and gives them an exciting path to a brighter future.
About the Author:
Jeannette Weisschuh leads HP’s education initiatives. Before taking her current position, she led corporate affairs for HP in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), focusing on social investments and EU-related projects. In this role, she collaborated closely with key business stakeholders on a regional and country level, and she was responsible for implementing HP’s global citizenship strategy and corporate social responsibility programs across the region. Jeannette sits on the CSR Europe Board and is a member of the CSR Europe steering committee on Skills for Jobs.