January is the time of year that sees the rich and powerful flock to the snowy mountains of Davos in Switzerland to discuss the most pressing problems currently facing the world. By most measures it is an elite event where one might at least cross paths, if not mix with, the wealthy, the influential and the mighty, from the business community, governments and academia to rock gods and famous philantrophists.
Not only does this event attract the world’s leading exponents of economic and business matters but also political leaders, influential celebrities and a handful of other public figures. So as Bill Gates pledged his millions to fighting aids and David Cameron discussed the political issues within the EU, another topic, of particular interest to us at BraveNewTalent, surfaced frequently throughout the week; the issue of the skills gap!
‘The skills gap’ is a term coined to explain the fact that those newly entering the world of employment do not possess the necessary skills required to fill the advertised vacancies. Essentially, the supply of talent is not meeting the demand of the markets. Furthermore, not enough is being done to provide the training and/or education necessary for applicants to acquire the skills that are needed.
Those who followed the World Economic Forum will have surely recognised that the predominant theme of the week was focused upon the unemployment, especially youth unemployment. Both are issues facing the world in the current disturbing economic climate. This ever-increasing and problematic issue was a prime focal point at Davos, the serene and luxurious location in Switzerland that has been home for the forum since its foundation in 1971, and was discussed in a number of sessions during the week. Highlights included a workshop looking at mobilising skills and revitalising education, a session focused on the gaps in the talent market and an ‘Ideas Lab’ focused on job and growth creation by addressing skill shortages. Common to all of these sessions was the discussion regarding the “lost generation” – those unable to find jobs. The delegates at the World Economic Forum declared that prevention of this looming problem is one of the key aims that the world needs to address quickly.
The fact that it has become such a widely debated issue has undoubtedly been prompted by the somewhat depressing report published, just a week prior to the Forum, by the International Labour Organization. According to the report the world faces the daunting challenge of producing more than 600 million jobs within the next decade “…in order to generate sustainable growth and maintain social cohesion…”. Juan Samovia, the ILO’s Director-General, stated that more than 1.1 billion people are either currently unemployed or are living in poverty. It is clear that statistics like these have impacted greatly on those attending the WEF.
The executive chairman of Google, Eric Schmit, argued on the other hand that there was not a ‘jobs crisis’ as such. But he went on to concede that (in relation to the skills gap) “…unemployment is predominantly the result of inadequate skills among the workforce, a problem that could be addressed with better education.”
Klaus Schwab, the founder of the WEF, has also commented at Davos last week that capital is no longer the most significant resource in the world, now it is Talent; “the old model was Capitalism, the new model is Talentism”. A report published by the WEF however, has reiterated the problem that talent isn’t achieving its full potential, mainly due to a lack of skills training and the consequential skills gap that has developed as a result.
The fact that this topic has been so prevalently debated can only mean good things for those, mainly young people, affected by its existence. With the help of BraveNewTalent, who look to help close this gap, perhaps in a few years time, looking back at Davos 2012 we will be writing about the improved situation with regard to unemployment… or at least the foundations are being laid to construct the bridge between talent and skills.
Lesley is a journalist and current community moderator for BraveNewTalent. If you like her style you can also see her writing about football here.