Cedefop Deputy Director Mara Brugia told University of Macedonia students in Thessaloniki that there are indications of an increasing skill mismatch in Europe as a result the coronavirus pandemic.

She was invited to give a lecture to students of the university’s Department of International and European Studies on the decentralised EU Agencies’ role and Cedefop’s mandate and work as part of the EU institutions, on 20 January.

Welcoming Ms Brugia, Professor Dimitrios Skiadas, who is also a member of Cedefop’s Management Board, representing the Greek Government, expressed his delight that the students had the chance to learn about Cedefop and ask probing questions.

Analysing the issue of skill mismatch, the Cedefop Deputy Director said: ‘Not everything that looks like a skills shortage is a skills shortage. There is often alarming reporting of employers unable to find people with the skills they need. With highly specialised digital skills, this might be true. But in many cases, it would be wrong to blame only the lack of skills for not being able to find the right people in particular sectors or occupations. Skill mismatch has both supply side and demand side drivers and dimensions. Over the past two decades, the policy landscape placed a lot of emphasis on supply side policies and interventions: people are expected to be job-ready. Although sometimes this is necessary, when skill mismatches are closely linked to demand characteristics, this might mean unattractive jobs or insufficient possibilities to use and develop skills at the workplace.’

Ms Brugia presented Cedefop’s mission to support the promotion, development and implementation of the European Union policy in vocational education and training, skills and qualifications; its supporting role as a decentralised EU Agency; its place in the EU institutional environment and its tripartite governance with representatives of Member State governments, employers and employees in the Management Board.

She also talked about the agency’s areas of activity, focusing on its work under the skills and labour market strand (skills intelligence, including blending insights, forecasting the labour market impact of megatrends such as the digital and green transitions, matching skills and jobs, etc.).

Giving students insights into emerging skills, Ms Brugia noted: ‘Such information shows what skills give you better chances to enter jobs, preferably jobs that match your capacities. But it is also relevant for people already in the labour market. Many people need to up- or reskill and then the question is: up- or reskilling for what?’

In the short-term, there are some clear trends, as Cedefop’s Skills OVATE, which collects and analyses online job vacancies in EU countries, shows.

Progressing workplace digitalisation increases demand for:

  • basic digital skills (e.g. digital collaboration software);
  • advanced digital skills: knowledge of business ICT systems, tools for software and web development and configuration, data analysis skills; we also see some growth in setting up networks and databases.

There is also evidence of skills trends linked to business transformation: sales and marketing to help enterprises affected by the pandemic develop or expand online shops or digital sales strategies; and creative design skills, new ways of interacting with customers, new management strategies for a remote workforce.

Following her presentation, Ms Brugia took questions from the students, including on types of job opportunities at Cedefop.