SPECIAL REPORT|APRIL 2012
The ongoing financial crisis continues to hit Europe hard;but this does not mean that stagnation is the only possibil-ity for the foreseeable future. There has been much contro- versy in many EU member states over austerity budgets, andarguments over is cutting budgets and streamlining publicexpenditure ultimately beneficial for Europe’s long-term eco-nomic goals. Certainly, some cutbacks seem inevitable, butmore and more, citizens and analysts alike are looking formeans of growth, not simply the scaling back of resources.One of the ways in which Europe can lift itself out of thecrisis is by maximising its current potential for a skilled andengaged workforce. Accordingly, the theme of this year’s Eu-ropean Business Summit, it’s tenth edition, is Europe’s skillsgap, and how can Europe formulate concrete solutions onthe best way to move the EU out of the crisis and enhancegrowth through skills, including the necessity to find solu-tions for an ageing workforce, the mismatch between thecurrent educational system and youth unemployment and ways to improve education. These are not easy questions toanswer, but they certainly need to be addressed.Over the past decade, the European Business Summit hasbeen engaged in these kinds of hard debates, sometimes ingood times, but latterly in bad, and harnessing the skills po-tential of Europe is one way out of the bad times. With com-petition from overseas territorial markets, such as China andKorea, and with strong economies such as Australia andCanada, Europe cannot afford to find itself squeezed out of the global marketplace.Many countries in Europe find themselves with growingunemployment, particularly amongst the youth, and are alsofacing a problem of ageing, and a decline in the workingpopulation, which is set to lessen by 40 million people by 2050. Many are therefore advocating labour market reforms,as well as a reform of the education sector, gearing second-ary and tertiary education towards science- and business-based programmes, and encouraging entrepreneurship anddevelopment of the knowledge-economy and highly skilledgraduates versed in the latest technological developments. These are just some of the arguments this year’s EuropeanBusiness Summit will hear. Over the past decade the eventhas looked critically and constructively at the business, em-ployment and economic policy of the European Union. Theanswers to the above questions may not come too easlity, but without those questions being asked, then stagnation mustsurely remain.
How can Europeformulate concretesolutions on the best way to move the EU out of thecrisis and enhance growththrough skills, including thenecessity to find solutions foran ageing workforce, themismatch between the currenteducational system and youthunemployment and ways toimprove education?
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