Educating Young People for the Jobs of the Future

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Mar 26, 2015
by Salzburg Global Seminar Staff
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Educating Young People for the Jobs of the Future

Evening panel discussion in Vienna tackles how to equip young people with 21st Century knowledge, skills and opportunities  Salzburg Global Vice President Clare Shine moderates the discussion held at RZB in Vienna

Salzburg Global Seminar was founded by young people in 1947 to challenge present and future leaders to solve issues of global concern. Nearly 70 years later, a top priority facing societies in and beyond Europe concerns youth and their economic prospects. Statistics on the true cost of youth unemployment for the global community are hard to come by but one thing is clear. For societies and individuals to prosper and flourish, systems innovations will be needed to equip all young people with the knowledge, skills and opportunities to achieve their potential and perform the jobs of the future.

To tackle this pressing topic, Salzburg Global Seminar, as part of its March Board Meeting and Fellowship Program, held a discussion on Thursday, March 18 at the Vienna headquarters of the Raiffeisen Zentralbank, with a panel of experts: Walter Emberger, CEO, Teach for Austria, Bernhard Reisner, Vice-President for Human Capital, MIBA AG, Laakirchen, Austria and Friederike Sözen, Director of Entrepreneurial Education, Austrian Federal Chamber of Commerce (WKO). 

Austria and Germany have long-standing dual systems of vocational education and worker training and enviably low levels of youth unemployment. In today’s global knowledge economy, is this a strategic asset that can be exported – especially to parts of the world with high unemployment and gaps in the skilled labor market? Could such systems be further improved and what would this mean for public-private sector cooperation? Do vocational educational tracks meet rising employer demands for flexibility and critical thinking?

The expert panel focused particularly on the need for “entrepreneurial education,” teaching students not only business administration skills, but also equipping them with a sense of agility and perseverance necessary for the constantly changing job market.

“The ‘job for life’ is over,” remarked on panelist.  

As digitalization, robotics and artificial intelligence transform the job landscape, the future of work and the role of education will come under increasing scrutiny. With figures such as Google CEO Eric Schmidt calling for “permissionless innovation” and a “culture of creativity,” what practical approaches could boost human capital development across all sectors of society? Will future educational systems need to “relearn learning” and will the distinction between “academic” and “vocational” become outdated as part of these complex changes? What partnerships between government, research, business and technology could pave the way for tomorrow’s citizens to function in and contribute to radically different economies?

The event was attend by Salzburg Global’s international Board of Directors, as well as Fellows and Vienna-based educators and entrepreneurs, many of whom are either currently still in or recently just left compulsory or higher education.

Insights and recommendations from the Vienna debate will now help to inform Salzburg Global’s ongoing strategic programs on education, innovation and economic and social sustainability, building on expertise within Austria. Salzburg Global is currently developing a multi-year intervention with partners starting in fall 2015, focusing on educational design and assessment for 21st century skills – the “4 Cs”of communication, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration – and the future needs of a rapidly changing job landscape. This will build on Salzburg Global’s earlier three-year series with ETS on Optimizing Talent: Closing Educational and Social Mobility Gaps and its complementary programs on emerging challenges for the global economy.


The panel discussion Educating Young People for the Jobs of the Future was kindly hosted by RZB on Thursday, March 19. You can read tweets from the evening via the hashtag #SGSrzb. Photos from the event are below