The Skills for Future Jobs conference represents a platform for experts to engage in open dialogue and share good practices about how to connect skills with future jobs.

The two-day conference took place in Hotel Aleksandar Palace in Skopje, North Macedonia, hosted by the Ministry of Education and Science and the Economic Chamber of North Macedonia.

Targeting high-level government representatives, policymakers, education sector representatives, private sector representatives, VET providers, youth organizations, and development cooperation specialists working in VET & youth employment, the conference was able to extract opinions, considerations, and arguments of where the educational systems from the region should focus in the future.

Future vocational skills, youth employment and entrepreneurship opportunities were the topics under which numerous local and international experts provided input and showcased future trends, all based on labor market needs and anticipations.

Speakers from governments, private sector, academia, and civil society from North Macedonia and the Western Balkans region as well as Switzerland and the EU, presented the latest research findings and share hands-on experiences.

The conference has set the base for a future platform on skills and employment, to foster exchange and cooperation at strategic and operational levels between relevant countries.

The Minister of Education and Science of North Macedonia, the Ambassador of Switzerland to North Macedonia and the Executive Director of the Economic Chamber of North Macedonia provided welcome speeches and opened the conference.

Young presenters coming from the entrepreneurial and youth activism sectors from the region provided insights on the future trends & vision of youth.

The panel discussion on the future of the labor market in the eyes of youth & entrepreneurs opened quite interesting topics related to what should government and companies’ responses to youth’s skills and job visions look like.

By joining 4 simultaneous workshops on the future of IT/E-commerce, Manufacturing, Green Energy Transition and Tourism & Hospitality, all participants had the opportunity to listen as well as to provide input to the final S4FJ conference conclusions.

To conclude the first day of the conference, a research presentation elaborated the demand for digital skills and provided an opportunity for the participants to engage in discussion with an expert on the topic of unlocking the youth potential in Southeastern Europe.

The second day of the conference began by the showcasing the changing skills for a changing world – the global drivers of change and trends that shape labor markets and skills needs. In addition, the expert talked about the impact of such changes on transitioning and developing countries and the resulting skill requirements in the future.

Two interactive presentations on the success factors of the Swiss VET system, the labor market needs in the future and the reaction to Adult Education, took the participants through the session – navigating the Swiss VET and Adult Learning system towards future skills.

With two rounds of panel discussions, the audience was able to hear expert considerations on the VET and adult learning systems in the region, some hands-on experiences, and innovative approaches as well as to interact with the professionals through a Q&A session.

The second day of the conference was concluded with a session for showcasing different digital solutions in VET and how low-tech digital solutions for learning can look like to new frontiers in immersive technologies.

The closing remarks provided by the hosts were supplemented with conclusions of the conference and a foretaste of the future skills.

During the entire S4FJ conference, the Q&A sessions enabled interaction among the professional while the networking provided a much clearer pathway to the skills for future jobs.

The S4FJ Conference was organized with the support of Education for Employment in North Macedonia (E4E@мк) – a project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC.