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Raising the skills bar - 27/02/2008

Older man retraining in IT

Expanding job market requires more skilled workers, says EU report.

With the European economy expected to create some 13 million extra jobs over the next eight years – most of them knowledge-based – the need for better trained workers will keep on growing.

This is the major finding of the first European skills forecast published by the EU's centre for the development of vocational training. The centre set out to identify what skills and qualifications European workers will need to stay attractive.

The study confirms that European economies have been moving away from agriculture and manufacturing towards knowledge-intensive sectors. By 2015, around 30% of jobs are expected to require what the study terms "high qualifications" – a degree, say. Even many elementary jobs will require more than basic qualifications. Already today, some 80 million workers are in highly-skilled, non-manual jobs – some 38% of Europe's 210 million-strong workforce.

Employees will need ongoing training to keep their skills up to date. Lifelong learning strategies will be essential. As education commissioner Ján Figel' explained: "The world economy is constantly changing, and so are the skills that people will need."

This study gives a clearer idea of where skill deficits are likely to arise in the future. It provides information that could help young and old alike identify their own training and learning needs – for successful careers in the future.

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