Youth, Skills & the Future of Work
Mediterranean Education and Talent Medatalk
Education is a powerful force that can accelerate economic growth, improve income distribution inequalities, facilitate social mobility, and reduce poverty, all of which should be a priority on the global political agenda.
Education systems in many Mediterranean countries are producing graduates with skills that do not match those required by business nor those that are needed in a competitive labour market. This means we have a generation of graduates without adequate education and training to contribute productively to the economy. To solve this pressing issue, governments, companies and the educational world must join forces to align skills with needs. A new paradigm is needed and only by working together in a multiple association can we aspire to have significant results.
The Mediterranean must be prepared to handle the global battles of innovation, knowledge and sustainability. The most immediate economic priority in the region is the creation of sufficient productive and sustainable jobs for the Mediterranean youth. At the same time, we must equip the incoming generations with the combination of talents and skills that will make them more competitive in the digital revolution and industry 4.0.
Young people are poised to move society and the economy forward. However. eithout access to quality education and training opportunities, they cannot participate in the 21st century workforce.
The main key to innovation is training: companies that invest in providing their employees with the right skills are the ones that grow; governments must rebalance spending, besides investing in tangible infrastructure, and bet in the same way on intangibles such as education, research and development;
Universities must reduce the gap between the classroom and the companies, through practical programs that develop skills for business creation, decision-making and risk management.
The challenge is to build together a society based on knowledge and innovation with equal opportunities for men and women.
The region is now at a crossroads where it needs to strike the right balance between supporting private sector development and the creation of new jobs and protecting existing jobs and current workers. Investment in human capital must evolve and intensify for the benefit of all. A company can only exist and remain innovative if it takes its role in education very seriously.
Mediterranean countries have long focused on building their economies, but now they are also starting to make education a priority, often with spectacular results. Countries and companies must attract those with the greatest potential and train the talents of tomorrow. The time has come to rethink higher education, raise awareness and train future students with high potential, in the different facets of this new economic and social leadership.
This session will provide an overview of the main issues that policymakers should onsider when formulating labour and education. The question is: what impact will these transformations have on business leadership in the future? And what does this mean for the education of future leaders?
SESSION 1 – ENERGY
Europe has no choice but to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas imports, and quickly. For this to happen, Europe must take a closer and fresh look at its neighbours to the South.
Energy security is a key concern. The EU should have alternatives to diversify its supply sources, as well as manage its political and economic risks and limit its dependence on Russian gas. Recent major natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean give the EU the option it is seeking, but also pose new challenges for governments and international players in the race to exploit the discovered wealth.
Europe and the Mediterranean region have the unique potential to transform and diversify our economy to a decarbonised future, based on resource protection, energy efficiency and renewable energies.
The Eastern Mediterranean could become one of the main global gas supply areas. Resources are estimated at 122 trillion cubic feet of gas, plus 1.7 million cubic meters of oil, located off the coasts of Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Israel, Egypt and Palestine.
The overall quantities can justify the enormous costs of a new gas pipeline from the Eastern Mediterranean to Italy and the rest of Europe. From the South there are already pipelines transporting gas from Algeria to the EU.
This is an opportunity for development and growth both for the producing countries and for the EU.
The region’s potential is considerable. In addition to oil and gas, it has a hydroelectric power system, wind resources and solar radiation that are among the highest in the world, as well as large tracts of desert. Technically, the region could be a major energy player and meet the needs of part of the planet.
But discoveries of gas fields are stirring the pot of regional turmoil. The absence of a maritime boundary demarcation law and the appetite of other players make for a volatile and highly complicated situation.
Key points for discussion:
- How can we find the best economic and strategic solutions to optimise operations, mobilise the necessary resources and promote long-term viability?
- How can the Mediterranean region and EU join forces if they want to take advantage of their resources?
- Are the public and private actors in the sector aware of the advantages of a shared vision that will develop energy cooperation between the two shores of the Mediterranean and promote the construction of a natural gas market in the region?
SESSION 2 – FOOD
Achieving a sustainable food future requires meeting three competing needs simultaneously: 1. efficiently closing the food gap; 2. preserving natural resources and climate; while 3. improving the environmental and social impact of agribusiness, also for smallholders.
“Green” and sustainable outcomes are a growing priority. The implementation of green projects requires transfer of know-how and also specific financial instruments.
Employment of skilled-labour is key in the agribusiness sector but clients are slow to adopt technological innovation and operational performance is often impaired by low labour productivity.
Rising food export surpluses and import deficits result in increasing trade polarisation, which is likely to persist. While trade is an essential part of improving food security outcomes, rising deficits create vulnerability to future price volatility.
Growth in regional trade integration and market interconnections encourages the development of comparative advantages and boosts resilience. At the same time, cross-border logistics and transport would contribute to a higher environmental footprint, if uncompensated by efficiency and technology improvements.
Transforming the world’s agri-food systems, the way we produce, process, distribute and consume food has been identified as one of the key avenues to achieve many targets of the 2030 Agenda.
The private sector plays a central role in addressing these challenges; offering innovative tools, resources, knowledge and technologies that are critical to achieve the second SDG through agri-food systems transformation; adopting more inclusive and resilient practices in their businesses; and investing in more efficient and sustainable technologies.
Micro, small and medium-sized agri-food enterprises (MSMEs), including start-ups, can play a critical role in achieving food security and eradicating rural poverty, with special emphasis on digital agriculture and youth and women-led businesses.
The challenges for the Mediterranean agribusiness sector will be: to remain competitive, to enhance productivity, to develop effective supply chains, to find access to finance, to foster cross-border trade and improved connectivity, and to be well-governed, resilient, integrated, sustainable and inclusive, enabling women and youth entrepreneurship.