By MEP Martina Dlabajová
We live in a time of an explosion of knowledge and new technologies where every skill that we teach in schools becomes obsolete after a few years due to growing technological advances. Today, more than half of the 12 million long-term unemployed do not have sufficient qualification or skills needed to succeed on the labour market. So where does the problem reside in? The answer is quite evident. The bottleneck in the supply of skilled workforce certainly occurs mainly due to the current inappropriate education policy framework. In practice it means that schools are not capable to provide young people with skills desired by employers since with the current pace of technology advancement, it takes time until educators master their use and introduce them into syllabuses.
A changing world creates many new jobs and the challenges that the near future presents can be transformed into opportunities and drivers of growth. New jobs, however, can only arise when there are enough skilled people capable of adapting to a rapidly changing environment. We already have the tools we need to do this, but we lack the mind-set – the way we look at education. Education, everywhere in the world, got stuck in schools with a ‘learn first, act in the world later” attitude. This logic must be changed. Today’s kids live in a completely different context, hence the need for a different education. Our kids now need an education that is far more connected and real than in the past. For this reason we need to ensure, that current education and skills are always linked to the labour market. Just as we cannot speak about employment without education, we cannot contemplate education without the employment perspective.
I believe education is a collective responsibility, we have to take a hard look at what all of us should be doing differently. For me the answer is promoting entrepreneurship education. The focus on fostering entrepreneurship in some Member States in Europe is much needed. Of course we do not need to make everyone in Europe an entrepreneur but we need to boost an entrepreneurial spirit in today’s youth. Everyone can learn being entrepreneurial and benefit from it, because even the most successful entrepreneurs were not born, they were built. We must therefore prepare and equip a new generation of innovators and problem-solvers in every sector, be it a doctor or a civil servant. Entrepreneurial competences are more valuable than ever to any business or organization or administration and are a key factor in young people making a successful transition from school to work.
I am happy that in recent years there has been increased attention given to the need of entrepreneurship education at the European level. I, personally, put particular focus on entrepreneurship education in my report on ‘Matching skills and jobs’ and the new report on ‘New Skills Agenda for Europe’ that is currently being negotiated in the Parliament. In the report I explicitly call for entrepreneurship education to be part of the curriculum in the Member States in order to develop an individual entrepreneurial mind-set in citizens. However, time is running fast, and to get visible results on the labor market, we must act immediately. We must deviate from the backward “extinguishing of fires” practice and better anticipate labour market needs. In order to do so, involvement of the triangle – academia, businesses and policymakers is needed.
For this reason, I very much welcome the activities of the European Entrepreneurship NETwork (EE-HUB) and the new campaign ‘Switch on Europe!’ that I am proudly part of.
The campaign aims to raise awareness about the lack of entrepreneurship education in European education systems and the missed opportunity for European citizens and its economy. I believe that entrepreneurship education is not only an opportunity, but nowadays rather a duty for Europe if it wants to keep its leadership position. Businesses are already struggling to find entrepreneurial employees and to tackle the widening disparity between staffing needs and qualified applicants. Data shows about 40% companies have difficulties finding staff with the right skills. Moreover, experts suggest that this skills gap could impact economic and corporate growth for the next 15 years! So what are we waiting for? Let’s set a new education framework that better fits to the kids of tomorrow and help them thrive! Let’s ‘Switch on Europe!’
Martina Dlabajová is a Czech businesswoman and international consultant, former president of the Regional Chamber of Commerce of the Zlin Region (2012 – 2014). Since 2014 she is a Member of the European Parliament. For many years she was the coordinator of the Office of the Zlin Region in Brussels. At the end of 2012, was elected the president of the Regional Chamber of Commerce of the Zlín Region. She also founded and managed several companies in the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic and Italy.
In the elections to the European Parliament in 2014 she stood as a non-party candidate for the movement ANO 2011 and succeeded with 4789 number of preferential votes. She was appointed as a Vice-Chair in the Committee on Budgetary Control (CONT), a member in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) and substitute in the Committee on Transport and Tourism. She initiated the Parliamentary Intergroup for Creative Industries and was appointed its Vice-President.