February 27, 2009
Briefing Note For Workshop XV
This Briefing Note has been prepared for Workshop XV of the 2009 European Business Summit. The workshop will run between 10.45 and 12.00 on Friday 27th March 2009. This Briefing Note has been prepared by INSEAD.
The session will be moderated by Bruno Lanvin, Executive Director, e-Lab, INSEAD.
Worldwide, knowledge is being seen as the basis of the next economic revolution. In Europe, this idea has been the core of the Union’s Lisbon Strategy of 2000. Eight years later, where are we, and how is the current crisis affecting the ways in which government, business and individuals look at ‘knowledge issues’ ? In particular, is the crisis making such issues look more remote from the daily concerns of decision makers ? Or, on the contrary, are they suddenly taking a new relevance, as a tool for survival and competitiveness ?
If indeed innovation is one of the ways through which Europe can carve its way out of the crisis, its human capital will be the main source of its future comparative advantages on the global scene. How prepared is Europe in this regard ? is it producing the skills and talents required ?
Looking at available data, the least that one can say is that European companies are concerned by the growing gap between the skills, talents and profiles they need on one hand, and the ability of Europe’s education system to produce them in sufficient numbers and at sufficient levels of quality. In some sectors, the lack of engineers, technicians, but also managers and entrepreneurs is striking.
At a more generic level, the younger generations shows diminishing interest for scientific studies, with a strong gender bias, as female students regard scientific careers as less promising.
Yet, a number of successful partnerships between government, business and the education sector show that this trend is not irreversible. How can such best practices be identified, scaled up and spread across Europe ? What kind of legal, regulatory, fiscal instruments would be required (if any) to support and encourage such efforts ?
These are some of the questions that should be addressed in this session.
2. Main Issues at the European Level
The inter-relationship between the issues of skills and innovation has a special relevance for Europe. Over the last eight years, the so-called ‘Lisbon approach’ has enhanced efforts to mobilize active economic and social forces around education, innovation and knowledge intensive sectors and activities such as information and communications technologies. At the same time, European institutions and national governments have pursued their efforts to deepen and strengthen a European social model whereby inequalities and exclusions are being addressed largely through higher levels of employability.
Skills and innovation are the cornerstones of such an approach. This raises a series of questions, including the following:
• Is Europe succeeding in generating or acquiring the skills it needs to build a leading and inclusive knowledge society ?
• What is needed from governments, business and citizens to achieve this goal ?
• From the point of view of innovation, is Europe’s approach to clustering appropriate ?
• How does Europe combine the respective potential of formal education (received in schools and universities) with that of life-long learning (including on-the-job training, distance education, and e-learning ?)
• Are European policy makers sufficiently aware of the growing demand/supply gaps in some areas, e.g. engineers ? if not, what can be done to increase their attention to this issue ? if yes, what kind of actions should they focus on ?
• What lessons can be learned from the experience of other countries such as the United States, Singapore or India, which have a track record of high-level achievements in education ?
• What would governments, educators and business consider as successful partnerships to address the most urgent skills issues in Europe ?
3. Challenges in the short/medium and long term
In the medium and long-term, the challenges for Europe are multifaceted. They include in particular the following issues:
• How will the current crisis affect Europe’s ability to transmit its ambition to younger generations ?
• How can Europe’s education system (formal and informal) improve its ability to offer to its population and its businesses the right skills at the right time ?
• How will other parts of the world react to similar challenges, and how will such reactions affect Europe’s ability to compete for talents ?
• How will Europe’s focus on knowledge and innovation affect employment, wages and competitiveness in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing industries and lower-end services ? should this be reflected in education curricula, and how ?
4. Possible questions for the thematic session
Among the questions which could be addressed to the panel and the audience during the session, the following could be particularly controversial :
• Is the younger generation interested enough in Europe’s approach to ‘daring and caring’ to wish to engage in its realization ?
• If not, what is the missing link ? information ? education ? interactivity ?
• If yes, what kind of job and career opportunities should Europe be able to offer them, and what kind of skills should it provide them ?
• Why is the gap growing between industry’s perceived skills needs on one hand and Europe’s education system’s output on the other hand ? Can the current trend be reversed ? at what cost ? under which conditions ?
• What kind of competition should Europe prepare to face in the context of a global war for talents ? How should it prepare for it ?
• Is the crisis going to help addressing such challenges, or is it going to be an aggravating factor ?
• Which of Europe’s member countries and industries look best positioned to take advantage of the new ‘skills deal’ shaping up before our eyes ? What can be learned from their respective experience ?
5. Further reading
1. Cheese, P., Thomas, R.J., and Craig, E. (2008), “The Talent Powered Organization – Strategies for Globalization, Talent Management and High Performance”, Kogan Page, Philadelphia.
2. Coe, D.T. (2007), “Globalisation and Labour Markets: Policy Issues Arising from the Emergence of China and India”, OECD Social Employment and Migration Working Paper No 63, Paris.
3. Coe, T. (2008), “Jobs on Another Shore”, Finance and Development, International Monetary Fund, Washington D.C., March 2008.
4. Fraser, M. and Dutta, S. (2008), “Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom”, John Wiley and Sons, Chichester.
5. Giridharadas, A. (2007), “Outsourcing Works So Well, India is Sending Jobs Overseas”, The New York Times, 6 October 2007, page 5.
6. Hartung, R. (2008), “It’s Talent Fusion At Work”, NewsToday, Singapore, 9-10 August 2008, page 36.
7. Heidrick and Struggles/Economist Intelligence Unit (2007), “Global Talent Index 2007-2012” http://www.weknowglobaltalent.com/gti/window/gti
8. Kirkegaard, J.F. (2007) “The Accelerating Decline in America’s High-Skilled Workforce : Implications for Immigration Policies”, Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington D.C.
9. Lanvin, B. (2008), ‘E-Skills, Competitiveness and Employability – Knowledge Societies’ Next Frontier’, White Paper, http://www.insead.edu/elab/eskills
10. Lanvin, B. and Passman, P. (2008), “Building E-skills for the Information Age”, in Dutta, S. and Mia, I. ed. “Global Information Technology Report 2007-2008”, World Economic Forum, Geneva.
11. Manpower (2008), ‘The Borderless Workforce: 2008’, White Paper http://www.elanit.com/imm/pdf/NEW_080624_BorderlessWkforce_WhitePaper_A4_FINAL.pdf
12. OECD (2008), ‘The Global Competition for Talent – Mobility of the Highly Skilled’, Paris.
13. Ready, D.A., Hill, L.A., Conger, J.A. (2008), ‘Winning the Race for Talent in Emerging Markets’, Harvard Business review, Vol. 86, N. 11 (November 2008), pages 62-70.
14. Solimano, A. ed. (2008), “The International Mobility of Talent – Types, Causes and Development Impact”, UNU-WIDER Studies in Development Economics, Oxford University Press, New York.
15. Veloo, R. (2008), “Our Talent Blindspot”, NewsToday, Singapore, 9-10 August 2008, page 10.
16. Wagstyl, S., Cienski, J., Eddy, K. and Escritt, T. (2008), “Gone West – Why Eastern Europe is labouring under an abundance of jobs”, Financial Times, 17 January 2008, page 9.