Preparing for the labour market needs of the future

As the ETF approaches its Skills for the Future conference in Turin in November

Being “the” topic of the day, many international organisations across the EU and the world are investigating on what skills the workers of the future will need as sweeping changes in technology and automation revolutionize the way we work.

As the European Training Foundation prepares for a major international conference in Turin, November 21-22, 'Skills for the Future: Managing Transition‘, EU and international agencies are also busy preparing research papers to help policymakers ensure that governments are prepared for what the future holds.

What do we know about the future of work?

Besides seminal research papers published by the academics, the International Labour Organisation, OECD, CEDEFOP, European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions and the European Commission all have a common aim: to map the shifting demands of the 21st century world of work.

Ranging from focused studies of sectors and fields, such as vocational education and training, to broad sweep analysis of 'big data', the statistics and analyses will provide essential tools for guiding job seekers in the EU and partner countries.

‘It is about anticipating future needs so that education and training systems can respond to the changes. A number of tools are available to anticipate future needs, but one needs to use different tools at the same time. In addition to traditional sources of labour market information, ‘big data’ can be another source. For example, the analysis of job portals provides a wide view of real time labour market data’, says Ummuhan Bardak, the ETF's Senior Specialist in Labour Market and Migration.

The EU Skills Panorama the single web portal created by the European Commission to integrate data and information on skills needs in occupations and sectors, is already contributing to skills intelligence at the European level. One of the things you can find in the portal is the European Skills Index, a composite indicators measuring the performance of EU skills systems. By using 15 individual indicators, the index assesses three dimensions of a skills system - skills development, activation and matching – capturing three stages of route from learning to skills utilisation in the labour market and at work in Europe.

CEDEFOP's study,‘The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe‘, finds that ‘VET appears to go in and out of fashion over time.’ Over the past few years, there has been ‘a period of increased public policy interest in VET’. Meanwhile between the 1990s and 2000s many countries had a greater focus on ‘boosting participation in higher education’. To ensure VET provision is in line with genuine economic demands, it is important to understand the reason behind these shifts in public policy.


The European Training Foundation (ETF), the EU Agency in charge of supporting countries in the EU neighbourhood to undertake reforms in education, training and labour policies, is organising the ‘Skills for the Future: Managing transition’ conference. The event will be held in Turin, Italy, on the 21-22 November 2018. Participants from more than 50 countries – entrepreneurs, training providers, policy makers, innovators – will be attending with the aim of exploring how transition countries can respond to global trends shaping the labour market of tomorrow from a skills perspective. The conference will be launched by a spin-off event, on 20th November: an UnConference where change-makers will set the agenda to explore solutions in place to address a changing job market. More:

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