With the Career Start Guarantee – now renamed 'AanDeBak-garantie' in the recently launched communication campaign - serious efforts are being made to help students in South Rotterdam chose their study programmes wisely. This covers the BRIDGE short and medium-term activities. However, to ensure that the achievements from this approach are permanent, it is necessary to also prepare young people who still have a few years to go before they begin their training.
BRIDGE is examining, via the Regional Skills Agenda, where the job opportunities of the future will be and what they will require from future employees. Technological developments are occurring at a rapid pace and this also has consequences for jobs. For example, through automation, a great number of administrative jobs are disappearing. "At the same time, technological developments are providing many new jobs or changing some elements of existing jobs" explains strategic adviser Cees Stoppelenburg, who is conducting research in relation to the Regional Skills Agenda.
Stoppelenburg has just started his research, but is already confident enough to suggest that the hard skills (being able to further develop and apply craftsmanship, a technical background and ICT advances) will continue to be important, but that soft skills (cooperating, communicating, flexibility, producing creative solutions and critical thinking) will become even more important. Employees who want to do well on the labour market in the near future must ensure that, in addition to their hard skills, they also develop soft skills.
"It is also important that there are unambiguous definitions of these soft skills. Because what does flexible mean? Does it mean that you are able to work in various teams? Does it mean that you can work at various times? Or does it mean that you are capable of performing a wide variety of tasks? Therefore, it is important that everyone has the same understanding of these terms."
The skills study was started from an economic perspective and focuses on the food/green port, healthcare, ICT/cyber, energy, port/maritime and engineering sectors. It could provide useful knowledge for other European Member States. Stoppelenburg advises these parties to start engaging now in dialogue with employers in the sectors concerned. "Where will the opportunities soon be? And make sure that education responds to them. These matters take time. Therefore, it's important that we get started quickly."
More information about the Regional Skills Agenda can be obtained from: Cees Stoppelenburg firstname.lastname@example.org