Prototype improvement, ideas for cooperation and suggestions for future actions were the main points of the European big data hackathon (#euBDhack) follow up, jointly organised by Cedefop and Eurostat, in Thessaloniki on 18 and 19 September.

The original competitive event took place last March in Brussels with the participation of teams from 22 European countries, which came up with innovative solutions to achieve a better match between skills and jobs in the EU.

Eight of these teams (Croatia, Estonia, Greece, France, Italy, Norway, Poland and Portugal) took part in the follow-up seminar, giving live demonstrations and presentations of their solutions.

In her opening address, Cedefop Deputy Director Mara Brugia said that the follow-up event’s aim was ‘to enrich the solutions proposed last time and, eventually, move from prototypes to production; so, this time, the focus is on cooperation and knowledge sharing, not competition.’

Ms Brugia presented Cedefop’s extensive work in the field of skills matching, adding that the agency is developing a pan-European, multilingual tool for gathering and analysing data from online vacancies in all EU Member States.

‘Analysing big data, combining them with traditional sources and visualising results in a smart way will further increase our capacity to provide targeted and understandable policy evidence on skill needs and mismatches,’ she argued.

Eurostat Head of Big Data Task Force Michail Skaliotis talked about great expectations for the outcome of the seminar, emphasising the strong momentum for the online job vacancy analysis in the EU.

Parallel thematic sessions on the first day discussed in detail how to overcome challenges encountered by the teams when developing their prototypes. Discussions took place with experts in skills mismatch, big data analysis techniques and machine learning, and visualisations.

On the second day, the teams worked on improving their prototypes and draft suggestions to Eurostat, Cedefop and DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion to take the work further.

Speaking at the final session, DG Employment’s Martin Le Vrang noted that big data are high on the political agenda and there is demand for more big data analysis of the labour market and more skills forecasting.

Cedefop Head of Department for Skills and Labour Market Pascaline Descy brought the seminar to a close, stressing the benefits of continued cooperation between the teams, Cedefop and Eurostat.

Ms Descy concluded: ‘This is a new and highly innovative field for both statistical and labour market research. Our ability to provide useful data and evidence for policy-making will depend on our capacity to exchange knowledge and understanding across disciplines, and with experts facing similar challenges to us.’

More information on the event together with the Agenda and the posters presented can be found here.