Skills are a pathway to employability and prosperity. People need a broad set of skills to fulfil their potential both at work and in society. Many young people leave education and training without being sufficiently prepared to enter the labour market and without the skills or mindset to start their own business. Only half of the EU population aged 15 years and above agree that their school education helped them to develop a sense of initiative and a sort of entrepreneurial attitude. Furthermore, there is only a handful of Member States where more than half of the adult population believes they have the required skills and knowledge to start a business.


It all starts with basic skills as literacy, numeracy, science and technology. Having sufficient levels of these skills is essential for young people to easily access the labour market and for adults to retain employment in high quality and stable jobs. However large proportions (between 20% and 25%) of both young people in initial education (as evidenced by the 2015 PISA results) and working-age adults (as evidenced by the 2012 PIAAC results) are lacking those basic skills, which hinders their capacity to find stable employment and participate in economic and social life in general.


Also, new ways of working and more frequent changes in jobs (by necessity or opportunity) call for a broader set of skills. Transversal skills are those relevant to find jobs and occupations in different fields from the present or past ones. Currently 40% of employers report difficulties in finding people with the right skills, many of them stressing a lack of transversal skills among job applicants. More than a half of EU employees require foreign language skills for their jobs (though such skills tend to be specific to a subset of jobs). However, only 42% of teenage pupils are competent in their first foreign language.


Skills gaps and mismatches are striking. Many people work in jobs that do not match their talents. At the same time, 40% of European employers have difficulty finding people with the skills they need to grow and innovate. Education providers on the one hand and employers and learners on the other have different perceptions of how well prepared graduates are for the labour market. Also, when it comes to setting up own business, too few people have needed entrepreneurial mindsets and skills.


Beyond looking for the right occupation-specific skills, employers are increasingly demanding transferable skills, such as the ability to work in a team, creative thinking and problem solving. This skills mix is also essential for people considering starting their own business. Yet too little emphasis is usually placed on such skills in curricula and they are rarely formally assessed.


That is why it is very important that people try to educate themselves constantly. Acquiring skills is a lifelong process, both formal and informal. Most people associate learning with formal education at school, college, university etc. We are all told, from an early age, that we should get a good education. Generally speaking, it is true that formal education and the resulting qualifications are important. Education may maximise our potential to find better, more satisfying jobs, earn more and perhaps become more successful in our chosen career. However, schooling is only one type of learning. There are many other opportunities to further your knowledge and develop the skills you need throughout life. And remember, employers value employees with initiative and the ability to adapt to challenges and changing environment. And that is possible with constant learning. Head over here to find out how to develop yourself and your skills and how the MyLK tool can help you with that.