Bridging the skills gap with entrepreneurship education
Martina DLABAJOVÁ, Member of the European Parliament
Many people might think that entrepreneurship is only about setting up one's own company. This is not so much the truth. It is also about the citizen's mind-set to act actively in an ever changing world which beside opportunities brings also many threats. Of course, we all are not meant to be entrepreneurs, but we need to acquire an entrepreneurial spirit, an entrepreneurial attitude towards crucial choices in our lives.
The choices we make today – as policymakers, educators, innovators or even immature students – will set a course for Europe’s prosperity and will affect the well-being of generations to come. Pablo Picasso said: "Action is the foundational key to all success." And I couldn't agree more with him.
I have been an entrepreneur all my life which allows me to better understand the labour market needs and skills mismatch problems Europe is facing nowadays. The unemployment rate specifically among young people in Europe is at an alarming level (with 5.7 million people unemployed among the 18-24 years age group). Thus, we have to respond to this critical situation by setting an appropriate education policy framework. Young graduates usually lack the knowledge, skills, critical thinking or sense of initiative required by employers and this is the reason why my focus now in the role of an MEP is on finding entrepreneurial solutions to address global challenges in education. But what is the concrete recipe?
Call for better cooperation between education and the world of business
In my own-initiative report on matching skills with jobs, I highlighted four key points to help us deliver this: better anticipation of future skills needs; closer links between education and companies; motivation and responsibility of young jobseekers; role of private intermediaries in helping workers to join the job market. Investing in education and in developing skills that respond to the demands of the labour market and society is essential for European growth and competitiveness. We need to start asking companies what they really need, what skills and knowledge they seek in a potential employee and adapt the education system accordingly. I believe we should place particular focus on SMEs which are the backbone of the European economy. We have to support them in finding qualified workers and provide incentives to be willing to invest in training and apprenticeships.
In fact, Europe's greatest potential resides in its human capital and human creativity. It is an unlimited economic resource which has the ability to withstand any crisis. However is being wasted when not actively developed.
A more active approach is needed
I believe that implemented policies are not the only way out. What young people are mostly lacking is motivation. For me it is crucial to make concrete steps to motivate them to be responsible for their future career and encourage them to work towards their goals. To turn words into action, my team and I have created a motivational traineeships project called "PročByNe?" ("WhyNot?"). We want to offer young people (aged 18-25 years) the opportunity to experience the atmosphere of their dream job thanks to short-term internships. Shadowing the Czech Minister of Finance, drafting a new piece of legislation on audio vision, assisting in filming TV series, preparing the whole monthly issue of magazine ELLE or learning the secrets of winery from Italian experts...are just some examples of successful stories. We give these people, who desire to pursue their dreams, an extraordinary experience across different sectors to challenge their talents and to boost their motivation. I believe that successful traineeships can prove to young people that it does make sense to adopt an active approach to their professional life. Young people do not necessarily have to hold the best degree to succeed in today's world, but they do need to have the best attitude!