More than one in four (27%) European employees are in dead-end positions with skills higher than needed to do their job and limited potential to grow. At the same time, 22% of employees say that their skills have not developed since they started their current job. These are some of the findings of Cedefop’s European skills and jobs (ESJ) survey, discussed at a high-level conference in Thessaloniki on 7 and 8 December 2015.

In his keynote speech, world-renowned Professor of Economics at Harvard University Richard Freeman talked about robots and the future of work: is technology destroying jobs and skills?

World Bank’s Lead Education Economist Harry Patrinos, also a keynote speaker, provided international evidence on returns on education and skills.

The conference hopes to stimulate discussion and identify key policy priorities, challenges and applicable solutions to the skill mismatch problem, with particular emphasis on the role of public-private partnerships and of supportive public policies.

More than 100 experts in skills and skill mismatch, along with representatives of governments, social partners, education and training, and the labour market engaged in a series of discussions structured around two key thematic pillars:

  • future challenges for vocational education and training (VET): impact of technology and workplace change on skill needs;
  • fostering partnerships in the workplace: rising up to the challenge of skill mismatch.

The objective of the conference is to provide a basis for policies that can stimulate skill demand through innovation and better jobs, effectively matched to the skills of young and adult workers, as stated in the Riga conclusions – the revised priorities for VET agreed by the European Commission, Member States and social partners in June 2015.

Launched in 2014, Cedefop’s ESJ survey asked 49 000 adult employees (aged 24 to 65) across all 28 EU Member States how their skills and qualifications match the needs of their jobs. The survey is the first to look at skill mismatch over time, taking account of changes to people’s skills and their job tasks.

Evidence from the ESJ survey has just been published in a free downloadable report titled Skills, qualifications and jobs in the EU: the making of a perfect match?