BUILDING BLOCK 2: Talent is crucial for a knowledge society

In today's global knowledge economy, knowledge (development) is central, especially in innovation and economic growth. "A dynamic science and innovation system relies on people. They are the backbone of our knowledge economy. Flanders is already evolving into a bottleneck economy, with an ever-increasing demand for talent, and this in a world where competition for talent is growing. Shortages cause serious damage to the economy" (VARIO Memorandum 2019-2024). Central in a knowledge region is the sufficient quantity and relevant quality of human capital.  

1. Number of STEM degrees must go up

A solid base of S&T (science and technology) graduates is essential for the development of R&D activities and their absorption, and for the establishment of a broader knowledge-based economy. There is also no doubt that, today, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) forms the basis for the fastest growing job categories. STEM graduates also appear to have a positive impact on other workers in the same local labour market (Winters, 2020[1]).

  • INDICATOR 2: Share of degrees in mathematics, science and technology in higher education in the total number of degrees in higher education

2. R&D personnel is important for the absorption capacity of R&D&I investments

Investments in human resources and in knowledge development are important elements in an environment where competition based on knowledge is more important than ever. There is not only a need for researchers, but also for scientifically and technologically trained managers who can introduce innovation into their company, and for a large number of highly educated and technically trained employees who can put this knowledge into practice. Sufficient R&D personnel is important for the absorption capacity of R&D&I investments. R&D personnel are the driving force in knowledge development, dissemination and application. That is why it is also important that the innovation potential is strengthened by investing in human capital.

  • INDICATOR 3: Total R&D-personnel per 1000 labour force

    • INDICATOR 3a: R&D-personnel per sector (higher education, public research institutions and enterprises)

3. Attach importance to a solid knowledge base and skills

The democratization of higher education has ensured that Flanders has an increasing number of highly educated people. An increase in the level of education creates employment opportunities, opportunities for higher income, higher economic growth… Secondary education is the start of this; young people must be given a sufficient knowledge base and skills to be able to enter into higher education and to make their contribution to society.

  • INDICATOR 4: Average PISA-score on reading, mathematics and science of Flemish 15-year old

4. Commit to lifelong learning

"No employee of the future will be able to keep relying on the knowledge gained in school and will have to continue learning throughout life. A culture of lifelong learning will become increasingly important because of the changing job market, because of the ever-increasing degree of digitalization and the fourth industrial revolution" (VARIO memorandum). Cf. the website of the transition area Lifelong Learning[2], in addition to technology, other trends also have an impact on the career of the future. Increasing individualization, flexibilization, more polygamous labour relations, 'uberization' and active ageing will redesign careers and labour relations, which will require us to think differently about jobs and careers. But, as the concept note 'the Learning Society' states, it is also about ensuring that each person can successfully adapt throughout their life to a world in constant transition. Learning is an integral part of our human development, not just for the economy, jobs and the labour market. 

  • Indicator 5: Share of population aged 25-64 participating in lifelong learning during the reference period  of 12 months prior to the survey

Training (education) is taken very broadly in this indicator and includes both training in regular education and outside it. The nature of the training is also irrelevant. If we want to gain a clear insight into participation in lifelong learning, it is crucial that the measuring instruments allow for more insight into motivation, formal versus informal learning, and learning intentions.

  • Indicator 5a – To be developed: Share of population aged 25-64 participating in lifelong learning during the reference period of 12 months prior to the survey, breakdown into the different forms of learning, the motivation etc.

[1] Winters J.V. Do higher levels of education and skills in an area benefit wider society? IZA World of Labor article (2020);