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Matching skills and jobs: anticipating needs in challenging times Print E-mail

Economic crisis, climate change and demographic developments (including ageing and migration) are posing huge challenges for Europe and beyond: many jobs are under threat, energy sources are being depleted, the population of developed countries is well below replacement level. But these challenges also offer us an opportunity to improve the links between education, training and the labour market and thus to prepare for recovery and a better future. There is general agreement that the best driver of economic recovery is the expansion of knowledge and skills. But to achieve this, we need better labour market information and an improved capability to anticipate changing skill needs.

New Skills for New Jobs initiative

The recently launched European Commission's New Skills for New Jobs initiative confirms the importance of identifying and anticipating skill needs for the European political agenda. The Bordeaux Communiqué (2008) identified as a priority the creation of forward-planning mechanisms that focus on jobs and skills, identification and avoidance of mismatches, gaps and shortages in skills. Similarly, the Integrated guidelines for growth and jobs 2008-10 identified the anticipation of skill needs as a crucial factor in ensuring inclusive labour markets. This need was also reflected in the EU Council's resolution on New skills for new jobs (November 2007). In December 2008 the European Commission issued a Communication on New skills for new jobs in which it provided a comprehensive overview of the initiative, including the results of Cedefop's study on future skills demands. The need to match skills to jobs has recently been emphasised in the Council conclusions on New skills for new jobs: Anticipating and matching labour market and skills needs (adopted by the Employment Council on 9 March 2009). The Council underlines that the need to upgrade skills can serve both as a short-term strategy for recovery and help close the skills gap in the longer term.

Cedefop's forecasts of skill supply and demand

Any anticipation exercise, especially in times of crisis, is difficult: we need to combine different tools, methods and approaches. One such method, which can provide a view of the long-term trends beyond the immediate crisis, is skill needs forecasting. Last year Cedefop published a forecast of what skills the labour market is expected to need in the medium term (10 years). To ensure the right match of skills and jobs, Cedefop's new forecast of the skills supply, to be announced at this conference, will provide complementary information on what skills are expected to be available in the labour market over the same period. Cedefop's related work also includes developing regular forecasts of skill supply and demand in Europe, exploring the use of employers' surveys as a tool for skill needs analysis and identifying skill needs for the green economy.

Objectives of the conference

The main objective is to promote the recently launched New Skills for New Jobs initiative and the follow-up of the communication on "New Skills for New Jobs" adopted in December 2008. The key aim is to disseminate and discuss with policy-makers, social partners, researchers, practitioners and a wider public:

·   the results of Cedefop’s medium-term forecast of skill supply in Europe in the context of the current challenges (economic and financial crisis, demographic decline, climate change)

·   Cedefop’s regular assessment of future skill demand and supply in Europe

·   collecting data on skill needs on the basis of employer’s surveys

·   how to identify the nature and scope of possible labour market imbalances and skill mismatches

·   how to achieve the best partnership between educational institutions and enterprises, including a presentation of current cases of best practice.

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Cedefop's skill needs network on early identification of skill needs