3D animation, smart TV apps, content monetisation technology, big data analysis, online education platforms. If anyone ever doubted that the future of work is already here, the list of young European entrepreneur achievements presented in Brussels on Wednesday (10 October) should be enough to convert even hardcore doubters.
“Thirty years ago, these kind of jobs did not exist, that’s how much we have moved on,” Johan Andresen, a Norwegian businessman behind the Ferd’s list project, told the event, which inducted six young entrepreneurs from as many countries to the 2018 list of honourees.
Their success stories show the impact of education that focuses on entrepreneurial skills. Though, they were quick to add, success is not taken for granted and failure is often part of the ‘learning by doing’ process.
In keeping with the increasingly dynamic business climate, some of last year’s Ferd honourees already sold their businesses and are preparing to invest in new projects.
Ferd’s List is a project run by Andresen and Junior Achievements Europe (JA), meant to highlight the innovative work of those who benefitted from specialised education organised by JA, an NGO that provides education programmes for entrepreneurship, work readiness and financial literacy.
And it’s not only education, as last year’s honouree Boris Kolev from Bulgaria explained:
“One of the good things we gain from JA is the opportunity to connect with businessmen, managers. For young people, this is very beneficial. It’s not only about training, textbooks, but the opportunity to connect.”
Last school year, the JA network in Europe reached more than four million young people in 40 countries with the support of 140,000 business volunteers and 130,000 educators, all in line with the European Commission’s New Skills Agenda for Europe, which touts the idea of promoting young entrepreneurs and innovators to boost job creation and growth.
“This shows the potential of Europe,” Andresen told EURACTIV, referring to the entrepreneurial programme and Ferd’s list.
“I think this has huge implications for Europe. We need to create new jobs, we need people to create innovations in companies they own. We need entrepreneurs in the public system, it needs to become much more innovative, flexible,” Andresen said.
Human skills cannot be replaced
Despite what Andresen calls ‘exponential progress’ of technology, the entrepreneurs from the 2018 list highlighted a set of human skills that will continue to play an important role and are not really encouraged in today’s schools.
“We need to define what kind of skills can be automated and which cannot. Social skills, creativity, ownership, self-responsibility, compassion, interaction. Do schools really teach those skills today? No. They kill creativity,” said Bernhard Hofer, an Austrian who runs talentify.me, an online platform that helps young people develop their potential regardless of their social or financial background.
“We should go back a little bit, think about creativity, drama classes, teaching kids to help others, basic human values. That’s also what companies tell me they need. Computers will not and cannot do that,” Hofer said.
Alicia Navarro, who has lived in Australia and London and founded Skimlinks, a content-to-content monetisation platform for online publishers, agreed.
“it’s not only about being smart, but about being able to articulate, make friends. It’s about negotiation, connection building, presentation. Human skills are the only thing that cannot be replaced,” she told EURACTIV.
She said there were still some “distinct benefits” for young startups to be based in the US, “particularly if you’re looking to achieve an exit. There are more buyers that have more money.”
“But it is getting better here, in the UK, but also there are great startup hubs in Scandinavia, Germany, Ireland. As a result, not only are there more venture capital firms, but a lot of US investors are starting to come here to find deals to invest in.”