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Manpower Inc. Calls for Education Overhaul to Ease Skills Mismatch

Manpower Inc. Calls for Education Overhaul to Ease Skills Mismatch
Jeff Joerres, Manpower Inc. Chairman and CEO, Participates in CNBC Live Debate on Measures to Boost Jobs in Advanced Economies at World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
Manpower Inc., world leader in innovative workforce solutions, will on Wednesday, 26 January, participate in the CNBC live debate at the 2011 World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos titled "The West Isn't Working," where high-profile thought leaders will suggest actions to stem the tide of jobs losses in advanced economies in the face of a growing talent mismatch, global power shifts and the threat of a lost generation of workers.
Jeffrey A. Joerres, Manpower Inc. Chairman and CEO, will argue in favor of the motion "Education is Failing Industry," in part two of the debate and will be challenged by Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania. Joerres will warn that, despite continuing high unemployment, the disparity between the skills taught by education institutions and those needed by business means western countries will find it increasingly difficult to source the critical talent they need.
"The world is experiencing an era of volatile and rapid transformation. This is exacerbating the disconnect between learning and industry as education cannot keep up," said Joerres. "The entire system needs to be revaluated. Changes would be significant, but are necessary to ensure industry, governments and educators are to effectively align education and training with business needs."
The debate challengers include Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and Managing Director, Reliance Industries Arianna Huffington, Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief, The Huffington Post and Phillip Jennings, General Secretary, UNI Global Union. Front Row VIPs include Peter Loscher, President & CEO, Siemens AG Min Zhu, Special Advisor, IMF and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman & Managing Director, Biocon.
As talent replaces capital as the key competitive differentiator, the working age population in most markets shrinks, and emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil become the new global powerhouse, it is now essential to plug the gap between education and industry. Therefore, Manpower recommends that more emphasis should be placed on high-quality problem-solving education and taking "on the job" degrees, making these qualifications more aligned to the needs of their employer.
A collaborative approach will be central to achieving this. For example, skilled trades regularly top Manpower's annual list of the Hardest Jobs to Fill, despite high unemployment. Part of the problem is the mismatch between what is taught in vocational courses and the skills required by employers. Furthermore, skilled trades fail to attract apprentices in the numbers required, although offering potentially lucrative and rewarding careers, they are up against a perception of being less honorable.
To address these problems, trade associations, businesses and governments should partner to ensure students are well prepared to enter the workforce and have the specific skills employers are looking for. A societal mindshift must be created by employers, trade groups and educators working together to bring honor back to skilled trades.
"Many young people come out of the education system with skills which are not aligned with the needs of the world of work," added Joerres. "Learning on the job is a solution to re-connect the education world and the world of work, and enables young people to start building a constructive career path.
"The big solution to the problem is that industry and educational institutions must work together more constructively and governments need to target funding in the right areas. Companies, governments and educators all have responsibility to get this right."
Individuals must play a role in this too with the world changing so rapidly, the ability to remain agile is crucial for workers to keep up. Employees must take advantage of training opportunities to keep their skills fresh and relevant. Skill sets will become obsolete more quickly, increasing the importance of so-called "soft skills" versus applicable knowledge to ensure intellectual curiosity and a hunger for lifelong learning.


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