EOPPEP CEO Ioanna Lytrivi talks to Business Partners Magazine about trends and challenges in Greece’s volatile post-COVID-19 job market.
At just 37, you were appointed CEO of EOPPEP, the National Organization for the Certification of Qualifications and Vocational Guidance. Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to your current position.
I am a graduate of the University of Athens in Linguistics, and I hold a Master’s degree from the University of Crete in Educational Policy. I also hold a Ph.D. in Political Science.
My studies reflect my interest in both education and policymaking. For years, I served as the Head of the Education Department at Lifelong Learning Centers, in charge of planning, monitoring and evaluation of the educational process. I have also been a trainer for adult learners at Vocational Training Centers. I also served as a special advisor to Ministerial cabinets and the Hellenic Parliament, for almost 9 years.
My message to young people? Commit to a lifetime of learning.
In September 2019, I responded to an open call for the position of CEO of EOPPEP and following a thorough selection process, I was awarded the position.
Looking at today’s job market and the growing need to provide reskilling opportunities to workers and establish a culture of lifelong learning, what do you think of the current situation in Greece and how can the Greek workforce be empowered to thrive in the rapidly evolving 21st century workplace?
Recent projections from the World Trade Organization foretell an economic downturn and job losses worse than those caused by the global financial crisis in 2008. Moreover, the OECD declared global GDP growth could fall this year to 1.5%, nearly half the rate predicted before the pandemic. And according to the International Labour Organization, “nearly 25 million jobs could be lost worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
But even before the current crisis, changing technologies and new ways of working were disrupting jobs. In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as many as 375 million workers will have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence. In a recent McKinsey Global Survey, 87% of executives said they were experiencing skill gaps in the workforce. Constant technological changes and Artificial Intelligence make it urgent for societies to enhance their digital skills, develop their cognitive skills to ensure that they can respond to the need for redesign and innovation, strengthen their social and emotional skills to ensure effective collaboration, and build adaptability and resilience skills to thrive during an evolving business situation.
This is a particularly testing time for the country’s youth, who, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic crisis, are facing major disruptions to both their education and fledgling professional careers. What is your message to these young people traversing the fault lines between schooling and employment?
What I would say to young people, after an almost 10-year recession and the pandemic, is that in a post-COVID-19 world, success will be linked to the ability to adapt to ever-evolving workplaces and to continuously update and refresh one’s skills. I would also remind young people that the job market of the future will need unique human qualities—social intelligence, imagination, innovation, creativity, improvisation, and empathy—skills that cannot be replicated by algorithms. In other words, my message to young people is this: Commit to a lifetime of learning.