What can Europe do to tackle the skills-related challenges in KETs?

For Europe to be able to fully realise KETs growth potential in the future, there is a need to align the supply and demand of KETs skills from both qualitative and quantitative perspectives. From a qualitative perspective, Europe needs to ensure a good alignment of the type and mastery levels of skills possessed by the current and future employees, with industry requirements. From a quantitative perspective, Europe needs to ensure the presence of a sufficient number of people who are qualified, available and willing to work in KETs.

These two perspectives form a holistic vision that needs to be subsequently translated into concrete actions to tackle the abovementioned challenges in a coherent, consistent, efficient and coordinated manner at all levels. The four specific action streams needed to realise this vision are: (1) Ensuring a good alignment of educational programmes with industry needs (quality); (2) Facilitating regular (re-)training of current employees (quality); (3) Raising awareness about KETs in the society (quantity); and (4) Improving the image of KETs as a field to work in (quantity).

The abovementioned four action streams correspond to the key challenges that need to be tackled in Europe to solve skills-related mismatches in KETs. The focus lies explicitly on the challenges with the highest impact (based on stakeholder opinion) on both the quality of KETs skills and the quantity of people who are qualified, available and willing to work in KETs.

The development and maintenance of KETs skills in Europe is a complex multi-faceted challenge that requires a complex solution. This complex solution consists of various clusters of measures each targeted at specific aspects of the overall challenge. Action is required at all levels, there is a clear need to join forces and apply a comprehensive approach, thereby enabling Europe to fully benefit from the opportunities offered by KETs for decades to come.

The KETs Skills Initiative covers measures that have a multi-KETs orientation, i.e. measures that are common to multiple or all KETs. The objective was to outline an overarching set of measures that would allow tackling KETs-skills related issues in Europe from a ‘common core’ perspective. The individual peculiarities of specific KETs (let alone specific job profiles) were not addressed in detail. Nevertheless, when applying the proposed measures at the level of an individual KET, one needs to take into account the specificities of that particular KET including its level of development, existing measures, additional specific skills that need to be trained etc.

The key specific measures within each of the action streams will be presented during the European Conference on Skills for Key Enabling Technologies and Digital Economy, to be held on 1-2 June 2015 in Brussels.