IATE Term of the Week: Skills Mismatch

June 21, 2019 1:14 pm

Skills Mismatch is the term used to express the gap between an individual’s job skills and the demands of the job market. The first reaction generated when listening to or looking at the phrase ‘Skills Mismatch’ is most probably to be that of surprise. From a psycholinguistic point of view, the concept of “Paradox” triggers the reaction of surprise. The term “Skills” has a positive connotation and points to the notions of ‘ability and cleverness’ while ‘mismatch’ indexes to ‘unsuitability and inaccuracy’.

But how rational is to consider “ability and cleverness’ ‘unsuitable”?

What could the combination of these two seemingly contradictory words ‘skills’ and ‘mismatch’ stand for?

It is the magic of language however, that shows contradictory combinations have existed since always. José Saramago, the Portuguese writer and recipient of the 1998 Nobel Prize, has said “no word is born by itself.”

The seemingly contradictory notion of skills mismatch is not born by itself. It is the contemporary ongoing and challenging professional environment that has given birth to this new concept. And makes perfect sense! The increasing gap between people’s professional abilities and the ongoing changing job market has become a challenge for Europe, affecting all layers of society; mainly the productivity and the efficiency of businesses.

As a contemporary phenomenon, skills mismatch is a term recently mentioned by Mr Stéphane Lauwick. Stéphane Lauwick; Director of the Electrical Engineering Department of the University Institute of Technology (IUT) at the University of Le Havre in France, and the president of EURASHE, the European Association of Institutions in Higher Education, since 2015.

In one of his recent interviews in April 2019 to EURACTIV Lauwick extensively referred to the skills mismatch phenomenon that Europe is called to deal with. This designates a lack of balance and correspondence in the existing circulation between training, higher education and the job market which Lauwick stressed. According to Lauwick the goal of the higher education sector must be the smoothing of the educational differences among the European regions, the boost of the local employment and the provision of students with the new skills needed in the changing labour market.


By improving the existing links between professional higher education institutions and the territory. In EURASHE’s agenda, it is stated: “We realise that the situation of professional higher education is quite different from one country to another, and I would say from one region to another,” Lauwick said.

Europe seems decisive on the new job skills. This is also pursued by researchers who are trying to address future challenges in the changing labour market.

However, these new skills must beyond innovation, entrepreneurship and digital literacy.

“The main idea is that the student has to reposition himself to expect the unexpected, to work in situations where nobody has shown him what to do.”




Fortuna G. New skills will require students to expect the unexpected, education expert says. euractiv.com. https://www.euractiv.com/section/economy-jobs/news/new-skills-will-require-students-to-expect-the-unexpected-education-expert-says/. Published April 26, 2019. Accessed June 19, 2019.

mismatch (v.). Index. https://www.etymonline.com/word/mismatch. Accessed June 19, 2019.

skill (n.). Index. https://www.etymonline.com/word/skill. Accessed June 19, 2019.

Skills Mismatch. skills. https://www.skillsmismatch.thinkyoung.eu/. Accessed June 19, 2019.



Written by Maria Papamargariti, Greek and English Philologist, Substitute Teacher in ISL School (Luxembourg) and Study Visitor at the Terminology Coordination Unit of the European Parliament in Luxembourg. She holds a Bachelor in Greek Language and Literature (Philology) and a Bachelor in English Language and Literature, both from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. She has published three books in the field of children’s literature, Books publication link. She speaks English, French and Greek. At present, she is completing her Master Studies in Learning and Communication in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts in the University of Luxembourg.





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