The knowledge economy needs people with the right mix of skills : transversal competences, e-skills for the digital era, creativity and flexibility and a solid understanding of their chosen field. But public and private employers increasingly report mismatches and difficulties in finding the right people for their evolving needs. Higher Education institutions are keen to stimulate the development of entrepreneurial, creative and innovation skills in all disciplines and thus contribute to Europe's prosperity.
For Higher Education this refers particularly to the exposure of (new generation) modality in which learning and professional work, in blend or full, can be expedited digitally. The value of work-based learning – and notably of apprenticeships or "dual training" systems – in facilitating employment and increasing economic competitiveness is clearly recognised. New technology will contribute to strategic partnerships and knowledge alliances, to new types of curriculum collaboration and related mobility and will increase the importance of 'virtual' and 'online'. There is a strong need for flexible, innovative learning approaches and delivery methods for improving the quality and relevance of higher education. Already virtual business games, work-based learning by virtual means (virtual projects, virtual companies) and virtual demonstration centres are used to enhance entrepreneurship. Virtual Incubation is gaining strategic importance through equipping students and workers with skills necessary for changing jobs as well as for entrepreneurship.
This is not just a matter of up-skilling individuals. Responsibility to deliver the right skills for the labour market must be shared between businesses, educational providers and other stakeholders, including students. A higher education sector that is responsive to European labour market needs will also serve an enhanced role in research, innovation and the dissemination of innovation, through the stimulation of and support to professional networks, organising informal and non-formal learning channels, impacting ultimately on regional development. Flexibility to the needs of students goes hand in hand with responsiveness to employers.