Smart skills and education in a future economy

Franciszek Kutrzeba


Regardless of whether the adopted role of education is to prepare people for pursuing employment or building general values, it will include the identification and development of skills and competences as well as professional and personal at- tributes. Critical thinking, ingenuity and complex cognitive-social skills are precisely those areas in which people continue to outdo intelligent machines. The purpose of this article is to review the skills and competences that will be desirable in the future in relation to recent technological changes. They are preceded by selected macroeconomic data to illustrate the situation of higher education with an emphasis on Poland, where, despite positive returns on investment in education (the highest among OECD countries), since 2005 a systematic fall in demand for higher education has been observed. The empirical part presents the results of a pilot study aimed at determining the desired future skills and professional attributes of Polish employers. The basic data was collected manually using a quantitative study during three sessions at two different job fairs in Gdańsk in March 2017. According to the surveyed respondents (n = 55), professional experience, proficiency in the use of new media and formal education were indicated as the least important features, while learning and diligence – as the key competences for the future economy. In addition, the studies have shown the differences in the perception of these abilities and competences depending on the employer’s position on the market, the number of employees and the internal policies of the companies.

Keywords: smart skills, higher education, critical thinking, smart competencies, future economy


  • Acemoglu, D., Autor, D. (2011). Skills, Tasks and Technologies: Implications for Employment and Earnings. Handbook of Labor Economics, 4, 1043-1171.
  • Antonowicz, D., Godlewski, B. (2011). Demograficzne tsunami. Raport Instytutu Sokratesa na temat wpÂływu zmian demograficznych na szkolnictwo wyÂższe do 2020 roku.
  • Autor, D., Levy, F., Murnane, R. (2003). The Skills Content in Recent Technological Change: An Empirical Exploration. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 118(4), 1279-1334.
  • Autor, D. (2015). Why Are There Still So Many Jobs? The History and Future of Workplace Automation. Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 29, No. 3, 3-30.
  • Autor, D. (2015a). Polanyi's paradox and the shape of employment growth. Re-Evaluating Labor Market Dynamics, 129-177.
  • Barber, M., Donnelly, K, Rizvi, S. (2013). An Avalanche is Coming. Higher Education and the Revolution Ahead. IPPR (Institute for Public Policy Research).
  • Boni, A., Walker, M. (2013). Human Development and Capabilities. Re-imagining the University of the Twenty-first Century. New York: Routledge.
  • Brewer, L. (2013). Enhancing Youth Employability: What? Why? and How? Guide to Core Work Skills. International Labor Organization.
  • Brynjolfsson, E., Mcafee, A. (2014). The Second Machine Age. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.
  • BudrĂ­a, S., Moro-Egido, A. (2014). Overqualification, Skill Mismatches and Wages in Private Sector Employment in Europe, Technological and Economic Development of Economy, Vol. 20, Issue 3, 457-483. DOI: 10.3846/20294913.2014.883341.
  • European Commission, (2010). Communication from the Commission - Europe 2020. Retrieved from:
  • The Commission of The European Communities (2003). European Union recommendation 2003/361. Official Journal of the European Union, L 124, 36-41. Retrieved from:
  • Ernst & Young Business Advisory, Instytut BadaĂą nad GospodarkÂą RynkowÂą (2010). Strategia rozwoju szkolnictwa wyÂższego do 2020 roku.
    Retrieved from:
  • Golding, C. (2011). Educating for critical thinking: though - encouraging questions in a community of inquiry. Higher Education Research & Development, Vol. 30, Issue 3, 357-370. DOI: 10.1080/07294360.2010.499144.
  • Gould, M., Howson, A. (2015). Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development. Research Starters: Sociology.
  • GUS - G³ówny UrzÂąd Statystyczny (Central Statistical Office of Poland), (2016). Szkolnictwo wyÂższe, stan w dniu 30 XI 2015 r. - dane wstĂŞpne. Retrieved from:,8,3.html.
  • Davies, A., Fidler, D., Gorbis. D. (2011). Future Work Skills 2020. Retrieved from:
  • International Labour Organization (ILO), (2015). Regional Model Competency Standards: core competencies. Retrieved from:
  • Jaimovich, N., Siu, N.H. (2012). The Trend is the Cycle: Job Polarization and Jobless Recoveries, No. w18334.
  • Kiersztyn, A. (2011). Racjonalne inwestycje czy zÂłudne nadzieje: NadwyÂżka wyksztaÂłcenia na polskim rynku pracy. Polityka SpoÂłeczna, No. 1.
  • KocĂłr, M. (2015). Niedopasowanie Kompetencyjne, Polski Rynek Pracy - wyzwania i kierunek dziaÂłaĂą. Badania KapitaÂłu Ludzkiego w Polsce 2010-2015.
  • Kuhn, D. (1999). A Developmental Model of Critical Thinking. Educational Researcher, 28(2), 16-25, 46.
  • Kwiek, M. (2015). Intergenerational Social Mobility: Higher Education and Educational and Occupational Ladder in Poland. Nauka i Szkolnictwo WyÂższe, 2(46), 183-213. DOI: 10.14746/nsw.2015.2.7.
  • Kwiek, M. (2016). Wprowadzenie. Deprywatyzacja szkolnictwa wyÂższego w Polsce. Co oznacza i jakie niesie konsekwencje? Nauka i Szkolnictwo WyÂższe, 2(48). DOI: 10.14746/nisw.2016.1.0.
  • Maguire P., Pitceathly C. (2002). Key Communication Skills and How to Acquire Them. BMJ, 325-697.
  • Manyika, J., Chui, M., Miremadi, M., Bughin, J., George, K., Willmott, P., Dewhurst, M. (2017). A Future that Works: Automation, Employment, and Productivity. Retrieved from:
  • MNiSW - Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa WyÂższego (Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education), (2013). Szkolnictwo WyÂższe w Polsce.
    Retrieved from:
  • Pocztowski, A., MiÂś, A., Pauli, U. (2013). W gĂłrĂŞ to jedyna droga. Poradnik rozwoju zawodowego dla studentĂłw Uniwersytetu Ekonomicznego w Krakowie.
  • Nonaka, I., Toyoma, R. (2003). The Knowledge-Creating Theory Revisited: Knowledge Creation as a Synthesizing Process. Knowledge Management Research & Practice 1, 2-10.
  • Nussbaum, M. (2010). Not for Profit. Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • OECD (2016a). OECD Economic Surveys: Poland 2016. DOI: 10.1787/eco_surveys-pol-2016-en.
  • OECD, (2016b). Global Competency for an Inclusive World. Retrieved from:
  • Psacharopoulos, G., Patrinos, H.A. (2004). Returns to Investment in Education: A Further Update. Education Economics, Vol. 12, No. 2. DOI: 10.1080/0964529042000239140.
  • Pacuska, M. (2014). ZatrudnialnoœÌ absolwentĂłw szkó³ wyÂższych - przeglÂąd wynikĂłw badaĂą losĂłw absolwentĂłw pod kÂątem zastosowanych wskaÂźnikĂłw. E-mentor, 1(53), 4-11. Retrieved from:
  • Parviainen, P., Federley, M., Grenman, K., Seisto, A. (2017). Competences and Employment in Digital Transformation. Publications of the Government´s analysis, assessment and research activities, vol. 24.
  • Piaget, J. (1929). The child's conception of the world. New York: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich.
  • Piaget, J. (1965). The moral judgment of the child. New York: The Free Press.
  • Pralahad, C.K., Hamel, G. (1990). The core competence of the corporation. Harvard business review. Retrieved from:
  • Sulkowski, L., Zawadzki, M. (2016). Corporate university: a critical approach. University of Social Sciences Publishing, Vol. XVII, Issue 1, part 2, 111-130.
  • Szreder, M. (2004). Metody i techniki sondaÂżowych badaĂą opinii. Warsaw: Polskie Wydawnictwo Ekonomiczne.
  • Temple, J. (2002). Growth effects of education and social capital in the OECD countries. Historical Social Research, Vol. 27, Issue 4, 5-46.
  • UK Commission for Employment and Skills, (2014). The future of work: jobs and skills in 2030. Retrieved from:
  • Vincent-Lancrin, S. (2008). What is the Impact of Demography on Higher Education Systems? A Forward-looking Approach for OECD Countries. Higher Education to 2030, Vol. 1: Demography, 41-103.
  • Wenger, E., McDermot, R., Snyder, W. (2002). A Guide to Managing Knowledge - Communities of Practice. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press.

Franciszek Kutrzeba

The Author graduated from the University of Örebro in Sweden in 2008 with a Master of Science in Business and Economics degree. He also fulfilled the requirements for master's degree in social sciences. Additionally, he trained at the Karl-Franzens-Universität in Graz, Austria and studied Theology at Uppsala University in Sweden. He received his primary and secondary education in Finland where he grew up. Currently Mr Kutrzeba is a part-time teaching assistant and a doctoral student at Gdañsk University of Technology. His research interests refer to the competences necessary for the employment in the economy of the future based on the intelligent technology.

About the article


The article is in the printed version on pages 37-43.

pdf download PDF

pdf read the article (English)

How to cite

Kutrzeba, F. (2018). Smart skills and education in a future economy. e-mentor, 2(74), 37-43. DOI: