The Job Market requires Workers with New Tech Skills

The Institute of Graduate Studies in Business (IESE) recently presented a report on the expectations regarding the youth employability, based on a survey of 53 large companies operating in Spain. The study compiled employers’ opinions on whether the current educational system effectively prepares future workers to build a professional profile that meets the demands driven by technological advances and new working methodologies in the workplace.

Employees of the future must be proficient in fields such as big data analysis, the internet of things, blockchain, digital marketing and e-commerce, among others. Moreover, they will have to move in cross-sectional, automated, and international environments, in which AGILE methodologies will be applied and so will design thinking and gig economy concepts (project based work). In the future there will be more self-employed workers, and many activities that companies currently carry out internally will be outsourced.

All of this will be a challenge for the development of new skills among those hired in the future and for maintaining long-term employability in the corporate realm. Firms do not see enough collaboration from the education sector or the government in ensuring that young people who are preparing themselves for the workplace acquire the necessary competencies demanded of them.

A Gap in Competencies

Data reflects the difficult situation of youth employment in Spain. The unemployment rate among young people surpasses 33%, compared to 14% in the rest of the EU. Moreover, the OECD believes that technological changes will make 50% of current jobs disappear.

In Spain, 35% of young people have some level of compulsory education, 24% having graduated middle or high school while 28% hold university degrees. However, companies hire 67% of their employees among university graduates. Therefore, in Europe 51% of those hired have professional training, a percentage that in Spain falls to 24%. And in our country, 31% of employees perform functions that do not align with their level of education.

Given that the changes at the workplace will become more consolidated in five years’ time, companies will need candidates that demonstrate with ease ample knowledge in finance, big data, digital marketing, foreign languages ​​and blockchain; skills such as teamwork, customer orientation, communication, work ethic and negotiation; and attitudes such as adaptability and resilience, ethical values, entrepreneuriship, respect, initiative, creative thinking and multicultural dexterity.

Therefore, the competency gap will widen, according to the IESE report. In fact, 73% of the companies surveyed believe that this gap has grown, while 72% experience great difficulties in hiring young people today, given their poor preparation in the core competencies that will be required in the future.

The Solution: Closer collaboration

Another conclusion of the IESE report is that the education system should teach more skills and proper attitudes, which help students cope and adapt to different working environments. Specifically, the companies in the study bring forth the following proposals:

  • Promote experiential learning through internships
  • Tax incentives for education and training
  • Build more relationships between companies and educational centers to increase company involvement in forming educational content
    • Defining professional profiles and competencies
    • Training support
    • Support for communication and visibility

Firms need the education system to improve the education it delivers, through a more complete, holistic and practical curriculum, with an emphasis on knowledge, skills and attitudes that are recruiters value. 87% believe that companies should be more active when collaborating with educational centers, to incorporate into academic plans the development of skills that will be required of recent graduates when they desire to join the labor force.

To achieve this, they advocate for greater interaction between companies, universities and educational institutions.  With regards to the government, its contribution should be to provide greater flexibility to the education system, so that educational institutions can respond to the needs of companies by providing the following:

  • Academic content and adaptation of programs and modules, and the creation of new degrees
  • Incentives for hiring young professionals and trainees
  • Favorable treatment on taxation and labor requirements

Javier Ferrer
Proa Comunicación Consultant specializing in the investment realm