As part of the European Vocational Skills Week 2019, International and EU experts discussed Digitalisation, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) & Future of Work at a recent joint ACCA, PwC, BSA and European Movement International multistakholder event.
In our global, fast-evolving, digitalised world, the Future of Work (FoW) is a worldwide concern, strongly enshrined in the SDGs, as social, economic and environmental issues should be looked at together. Megatrends impacting FoW, the skills demand and the structure of the labour market include climate change and the transition to a carbon neutral economy, demographic changes and globalisation, and of course digitalisation, as some of the biggest factors shaping it.
ACCA (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), PwC, BSA | The Software Alliance and European Movement International joined forces for a thought-provoking discussion addressing tomorrow's skills and jobs challenges through the prism of digitalisation, SDGs & Future of work. The conference was a side event related to Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and part of the European Vocational Skills Week 2019, under the motto Skills for All, Skills for Life.
In her welcome speech, Helen Brand, OBE, ACCA’s chief executive, set the scene, saying: “It is imperative to understand the impact of artificial intelligence and other digital technologies on employment, as well as current and future labour market demand. And of course to take the appropriate actions to re-skill and up-skill the current workforce, and make sure the skills of the young generations are future-proof”.
“This is what ACCA does, by equipping our students and members with the real-world skills and expertise needed to make an immediate impact in all types of organisation. This includes a digital and technology research programme - comprising our latest research on Machine Learning- which explains its tremendous opportunities, but also why ethical judgment and emotional intelligence remain vital”, Helen Brand, added.
All speakers agreed that to shift mentalities, this must be a collective effort. Policy makers, youth organisations, individuals, employers, education providers, civil society, all need to think how to develop the professional skills needed in this changing world, also going beyond technical knowledge.
For Petros Fassoulas, Secretary General of European Movement international, digitalisation can help our democracy as much as our economy.
“However, as we also need to promote sustainable growth, this requires certain conditions to make the most of it, such as developing new e-skills, integrated in education systems. It is also crucial that the existing workforce is trained and re-trained, as technology is changing much faster than our education systems. We shouldn’t forget the workforce that needs support, especially when it comes to precarious forms of employment. All these elements must be integrated – EU institutions and member states need to make sure that regulatory frameworks are closely aligned at European level”, Petros Fassoulas explained.
Anticipation of future skills needs plays an important role, as well as flexible ways of learning, including on the job training. Vocational Education and Training (VET) is a good way to develop initial, labour market relevant skills, but also to up-skill and re-skill later in life. Speakers reminded the need to address both low and high end of skills distribution, as one third of the EU labour force has no or almost no digital skills, and agreed that the important question is how to motivate people to participate in lifelong learning and how to balance the responsibility between the public and private sectors and also the individuals.
“Both the public and private sectors have important roles to play in assisting workers as they transition to the digital economy, expanding opportunities to reach a bigger pool of skilled workers, and preparing the next generation for the jobs that software creates in various industries,” said Matteo Quattrocchi, Senior Policy Manager, EMEA at BSA | The Software Alliance. “BSA’s Workforce Development Agenda suggests that governments, the private sector, and civil society work together to improve access to Science and Technology education; expand workforce retraining; create alternative pathways to the evolving workforce; and broaden access to technology,” Quattrocchi added.
Riikka-Maria Turkia, Counsellor for Employment at the Finnish Permanent Representation to the EU indicated that the Finnish presidency wants to see updating lifelong learning strategies and policies as part of the new European Commission agenda. In terms of next steps, “ the EPSCO Council on 24 October will have a policy debate on a strategic approach to continuous lifelong learning, and is also expected to adopt the Council Conclusions on the ILO Declaration for the Future of Work. The Education Council on 8 November, for its part, is expected to adopt Council Conclusions on the key role of lifelong learning policies in empowering societies to address the technological and green transition, and will have a policy debate on artificial intelligence in education and training”.
Dr. Kristina Dervojeda, leader of PwC Innovation Research Centre, PwC Netherlands who moderated the panel discussion highlighted: “The topic of future of work is immense and can be looked at from many different perspectives, ranging from global megatrends and going all the way down to the individual lives of every single one of us. PwC is involved in many studies on the future of work and education for the European Commission, and we have recently launched a global upskilling initiative New World. New Skills; we are also closely working with the World Economic Forum on issues related to the future of work”.
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ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.
ACCA supports its 219,000 members and 527,000 students (including affiliates) in 179 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 110 offices and centres and 7,571 Approved Employers worldwide, and 328 approved learning providers who provide high standards of learning and development.
Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.
At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 157 countries with over 276,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com.
PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.
BSA | The Software Alliance (www.bsa.org) is the leading advocate for the global software industry before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members are among the world’s most innovative companies, creating software solutions that spark the economy and improve modern life. With headquarters in Washington, DC, and operations in more than 30 countries, BSA pioneers compliance programs that promote legal software use and advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy.
BSA’s members include: Adobe, Akamai, Apple, Autodesk, Bentley Systems, Box, Cadence, Cloudflare, CNC/Mastercam, DataStax, DocuSign, IBM, Informatica, Intel, Intuit, MathWorks, McAfee, Microsoft, Okta, Oracle, PTC, Salesforce, ServiceNow, Siemens PLM Software, Sitecore, Slack, Splunk, Symantec, Trend Micro, Trimble Solutions Corporation, Twilio, and Workday.
About European Movement International
The European Movement is the largest pan-European network of pro-European organisations. It is present in 30 countries and encompasses over 40 International Associations, bringing together European civil society, business, trade unions, NGOs, political parties, local authorities and academia.
Founded 70 years ago, we have continuously advocated in favour of European co-operation and integration, based on the principles of peace, democracy, liberty, solidarity, equality, justice, the respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Today the European Movement seeks to provide a platform to encourage and facilitate the active participation of citizens and stakeholders from a cross-section of sectors in the development of European solutions to our common challenges. We offer thought leadership on the issues that confront Europe; we seek to inform the debates on our Union’s future, involve citizens and stakeholders in the decisions that affect them and influence policy-makers in favour of an open, inclusive, transparent and united Europe.