European Business Summit 2014: The role of youth entrepreneurship education in EU’s Strategy for Competitiveness

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JADE Team 2014 together with Mr Arnaud Thysen, General Manager of European Business Summit 2014

Earlier last month, JADE announced its participation as supporting partner of  the 12th edition of the European Business Summit (EBS); where it represented the voice of young entrepreneurial students in front of Europe’s most important Business Leaders, Policy makers and Media. Organised by BUSINESSEUROPE and the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (FEB), EBS is  one of the most influential business forums in Europe. This year’s focus was on the Business Agenda 2014-19: ”Rebuilding a Competitive Europe” and how Europe can reach its economic recovery, growth and competitiveness.

The summit began with an opening plenary and keynote speeches by political and business leaders such as Mr José Manuel Barroso (President of the European Commission), Ms Emma Marcegaglia (President of BUSINESSEUROPE), Ms Michièle Sioen (President of FEB) and Mr Didier Reynders (Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Foreign Affairs, Belgium).

Victor Soto, JADE Vice-President, José Manuel Barosso, President of the European Commission and Joao Negreiros, JADE and Brasil Junior Ambassador

President José Manuel Barroso started his speech focusing on the positive developments of the European Union in the last 10 years and praised its resilience in front of today’s challenges. Moreover, he called for the new Commission to maintain its adaptability in dealing with the new  economic and technological changes within Europe and international developments. He continued by quoting a Latin saying, “If  we don’t advance, we go backwards”; and thus referring to the crucial role of competitiveness for EU. President Barroso concluded that Europe would continue to thrive as long as  there was a firmer EU political leadership to make happen all that needs to be done, while the EU comes to a consensus on the priorities for the next five years.  Additionally, he called for European business leaders to help reinvigorate the confidence and hope of Europe’s citizens in order to become the driving force in job creation and  tackle the burning matter of  unemployment.

The keynote speech by Ms Emma Marcegaglia – President of BUSINESSEUROPE followed. BUSINESSEUROPE represents all SMEs and large businesses in 35 European countries while being a partner of JADE since 2004. She affirmed that BUSINESSEUROPE acknowledges the need of a clear commitment to reduce unemployment  by  developing European talent and to help bridge the skills gap in Europe. Finally,  Ms Marcegaglia  envisioned a more ambitious and entrepreneurial future Europe that drives growth through innovation.

The summit was followed by plenary sessions  related to industry, entrepreneurship and education.

Mr David Rennie, Vice-President of Nestlé Europe, Mr Xavier Prats Monné, Deputy Director-General for Education – European Commission and Victor Soto, JADE Vice-President

The session to which JADE contributed was “Education and Business for Innovation: Acting Together”, moderated by Ms Ann Mettler (Executive Director of the Lisbon Council). JADE’s  Vice-President, Victor Soto, participated as discussant along a lineup of high level speakers including Mr D. P. Nambiar (Chief of Human Resources Officer – Europe of Tata Consultancy Services), Mr David Rennie (Vice-President of Nestlé Europe), Ms Mary Ritter (CEO of Climate-KIC), Ms Tuula Teeri (President of Aalto University) and Mr Xavier Prats Monné (Deputy Director-General for Education, European Commission), who was also a keynote speaker at JADE’s International Congress on “Enterprises Skills for Youth” earlier this year.

This session began with a very clear alignment on the discussion, where Ms Mettler highlighted the issue of unemployment and the need to exploring different initiatives to create collaboration between Education, research and innovation (knowledge triangle) as a tool to our 21st century challenges.

To begin with, Commissioner Prats Monné highlighted the need for more collaborative efforts and a continuous feedback loop between the public and private sectors in order to improve the current skills mismatch gap. He underlined that companies and education institutions need to beware of falling into the trap caused by the “predictability effect” in education or employment, which is when young people’s future performance are predicted based on only their past performances through the use of biased analytics and big data.

The following panelists were Mr Rennie and Mr Nambia, who agreed on the shortage of skills around the globe  and the need for a closer collaboration between education and business in order to bridge the skills gap. Recently, Tata Consultancy Services released a report on the “Workplace of the Future: A view from European youth”, which also looks more into what Generation Y expects from 21st century workplaces.

Moreover, it was also highlighted that young people nowadays not only need the technical skills, but are also required to develop the right attitudes such as “Agility, Adaptability and Flexibility”. Later, Mr Rennie explored the importance of intrapreneurship and how innovation could be developed in a company for creating new products and most importantly for helping Europe through the creation of new business models that foster new markets and  growth.

JADE’s participation was highlighted in the role of entrepreneurship education and experiential learning inside organisations such as Junior Enterprises, where young people can develop the right skills through a learning by doing approach. This was a shared voice between other youth NGOs’ representatives present that also provide opportunities for Europe’s youth to undergo a necessary preparation for the labour market.

As a conclusion, it was agreed that businesses had begun to work with education more closely and to share young people’s opinions about re-shaping curricula; however there is plenty of space for continuous collaboration, specifically in the area of non-formal education. There are existing challenges such as the recognition by the employers of these so called “21st century attitudes” and  the need for policy makers to further support the work of youth NGOs in bridging the skills mismatch gap and in changing educational institutions focus from the predictability of traditional systems to the personal development of individuals.

JADE would like to thank the General Manager of the European Business Summit, Mr Arnaud Thysen, for supporting its participation to this important event, which is essential for bringing ideas and best practices together and creating sustainable solutions for the Europe of tomorrow.