“75% of companies admit to having difficulties in recruiting the talent they need”. Also, 78% of the companies surveyed view the scarcity of talent as a key threat to the long-term viability of their business.

These are two of the findings of the Report on ‘Converging paths: young people and companies facing the challenge of talent’, produced by KPMG and the Princess of Girona Foundation. Enagás, in collaboration with the San Pablo CEU University Foundation, contributed to this report, and we had the privilege of presenting to Princess Leonor and Infanta Sofia during the Princess of Girona 2023 awards ceremony.

The report compiles insights from over one hundred companies and an equal number of young individuals, shedding light on the challenges related to talent. It presents numerous overwhelming data, some of which are concerning, such as the fact that approximately 29% of unemployed young individuals under twenty-five years old in Spain are willing to work but can’t find jobs.

The contradiction of companies struggling to find the desired skill sets while young individuals face challenges in securing employment states the necessity to align education and training with the demands of the labour market. This challenge is not limited to Spain alone. The European Union has designated 2023 as the European Year of Skills, emphasising the importance of being adequately prepared for the dual ecological and digital transition. This is particularly relevant in the energy sector, which is experiencing a complete transformation in response to decarbonisation efforts. The European Commission estimates that more than 3.5 million jobs will need to be created by 2030 to meet the targets of the REPowerEU plan.

How can we make the most of this opportunity? How can we bridge the gap between the skills acquired through the education system and those sought-after by the business community?

During a recent discussion on education in Spain, historian and author Yuval Noah Harari expressed his belief that “if we teach young people a narrow set of skills, it’s a very bad idea” and “very dangerous”. He argued that due to the rapid pace of change, attempting to predict the crucial skills for the forthcoming decade becomes increasingly challenging.

While I strongly believe that a combination of individuals with broad, cross-functional perspectives and those with specialised technical skills will continue to be essential in the future, I fully agree with Harari’s assertion that “what we should focus on is teaching young people to keep learning and keep changing thoughout their lives”. In other words, talent counts, but attitude is gaining ground: a willingness to learn is becoming essential for every professional.

This is true for everyone: young or old, newcomers to the company or seniors: continuous learning, or “lifelong learning”, will become increasingly important throughout our careers. And, interestingly, the report supported by the Princess of Girona Foundation found that 71% of major companies are actively engaged in upskilling initiatives, aimed at enhancing performance, and reskilling programs, designed to refresh skills. Their objective is to facilitate individuals’ ability to adapt to a constantly evolving and highly-demand environment.

As we navigate through the ongoing digital revolution, certain companies are taking proactive steps by exploring and educating their teams in the field of artificial intelligence. With a focus on responsibility and safety. And being well aware that well-trained professionals who are able to make informed decisions, especially at critical moments, will continue to be indispensable for the foreseeable future.

Charlie Chaplin’s famous final speech in The Great Dictator in 1940 conveyed the message, “More than machinery, we need humanity”. Today we know that the two can and must go hand in hand. We need machines, but in this context of artificial intelligence and profound transformations, people are more important than ever.