In order to bridge the skills gap, we must first identify precisely which skills are needed for the future. This remains difficult, due to the rapid pace of change we are seeing today. Adaptation of education systems, development of lifelong learning systems and close cooperation between employers, policy-makers and academics are some of the ways to help people adapt their skills to the demands of future labour markets. These were among the conclusions reached at the conference on
Bridging the Skills Gap for Growth and Job Creation – the Business Perspective, which took place on 22 March 2018 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
While systemic changes to education and training are one side of the coin, people's attitudes and their eagerness to constantly acquire new skills are equally important. However, attitudes need to be shaped at a very early stage – both at school and by parents.
The conference was brought to a close with the joint declaration of the Employers' Group and the Association of Organizations of Bulgarian employers. This document calls for a number of practical measures aimed at adapting labour markets and education systems to the needs of the future. These include removing obstacles to job creation, motivating people to develop skills themselves and adopting an approach based on
flexicurity in order to adapt labour legislation to the needs of the modern economy.
Within education systems, we need to foster creativity, an entrepreneurial mindset and mobility in education and training at all levels, to invest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills, to foster lifelong learning while promoting work-based learning and VET and to reinforce links between businesses and education providers, thereby avoiding skills mismatches. The full text of the declaration can be downloaded here.
The event was organised jointly by the Employers Group and the Association of Organisations of Bulgarian Employers, and was one of the official events organised by the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.