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CEO of The Adecco Group @AlainDehaze


A blueprint for aligning education to companies’ needs.

The Adecco Group supports the four Recommendations to the Governments of the G20 countries to implement programmes to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.

Few countries better illustrate the challenges facing governments trying to shape their work forces than China.With a labour force of 804m, the most populous nation on Earth wants to shift from an export driven model based primarily on investment in infrastructure and capital goods to a more balanced economy featuring with greater domestic consumption.

That, of course, is easier said than done. For China, like almost all its less populous peers, needs to nurture workers with the right mix of talents for the future. Even in China, with its vast human resources, employers are starting to complain about specific shortages.That mismatch is not unfamiliar.

Globally, some 73m youngsters are without jobs, just as 40% of employers say they cannot find people with the right skills. Such a misalignment spells a lack of prospects for millions of people and subpar growth for all.

INSPIRINGAs the world’s leading provider of HR solutions, the Adecco Group sees everyday the urgency of adjusting education and employment policies to meet future needs. We are all living longer, just as birth rates are falling. By 2030, the surplus of labour evident today will have turned into a massive shortfall. By 2035, those aged 65 and above will be the fastest growing slice of the population. The effect will be particularly acute in countries like China (labour shortfall of 24.5m by2030) and Germany (10m shortfall). More than ever, countries’ openness to labour mobility will affect their ability to tackle the skills gaps and productivity issues of an ageing population.

Secondly, the composition of the global workforce will change. Demand for labour,combined with an ageing population and ever better healthcare, will see mature workers postponing retirement.Employers will for the first time be facing three or even four different generation sat work. And for governments – not just in Beijing, Berlin or Tokyo – activating the mature workforce will be crucial to addressing employment challenges.Attitudes towards mobility and diversity will also have to adjust.Thirdly, flexibility will become more important than ever for companies to stay competitive. A contingent workforce is decisive in addressing businesses’ rising demand for flexibility. The need to make labour more supple will have to be reflected in regulation too. Labour market restrictions still stifle job creation in many countries. And educational systems that develop employable skills through, for instance, apprenticeships,remain sorely lacking.Finally, technological change –and disruption – will be central. Digitalization has triggered a huge automation of labour: an estimated one in two jobs today risk being replaced by machines. The peril varies by country and hinges on individual governments’ policies and investments: in low wage countries, such as China or parts of Eastern Europe, increased automation may even negatively impact cost advantages. Such a background calls for new growth models and an “upskilling” of the workforce.As a member of the Employment Taskforce of the B20, the Adecco Group supports the four Recommendations to the Governments of the G20 countries to implement programmes to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation,remove structural barriers and enact support mechanisms to increase youth employment participation. And we back the initiatives to increase the female labour force participation rate and to assess and reduce the skill mismatch and workforce capability gap.

We have one particularly high priority, and that is education,training and lifelong learning. As digitalization and automation advance, high quality education is essential to boost employable skills.Talent gaps show new skills are needed to support economic development. ‘Quality education’– which we define as that able to match skills and market needs –plays a decisive role in a country’s competitiveness. To ensure the workforce meets market requirements,it is imperative to improve co-operation and alignment between education systems, businesses and employers.That includes public-private partnerships to create the“quality education” systems needed to produce the skills markets require.Talent strategies must be guided by the concept of “employable skills” involving structural co-operation between governments, education systems and businesses. Initiatives like the Global Apprenticeships Network (GAN),a coalition of institutions, employers’ organizations and businesses,exemplify such co-operation.

Young people also have a part to play.They must focus on the emerging sectors,develop soft skills and embrace mobility.As volatility becomes the constant in life and work, the value of soft skills like creativity, problem solving, and empathy becomes ever more important.And learning does not stop the day we leave school, apprenticeship or university. It is a lifelong process,involving skills being refined through out a career. That applies across the board:disruption and technological change do not spell the extinction of the historian or classical scholar. But they, too, will have to keep learning, or get left behind.

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