"Having a high level of unemployment in the European Union, we also have around 2 million vacancies, including around 700,000 IT vacancies in Europe," the minister told a press conference. "We don't have a sufficient number of technologists, we don't have a sufficient number of engineers who are needed even in developed European countries."
According to Pavalkis, "there were also all kinds of statements in favor and against university autonomy, and we talked about the funding of the system" at the informal meeting. No concrete decisions are made during such informal meetings.
European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Maire Geoghegan-Quinn, who also attended the meeting, said that the crisis showed that it pays to invest into research and innovation as Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark, leading countries in this field, have fewer youth unemployment problems.
"There is clearly a skills mismatch that we have to address if we want to supply the European economy with the workforce that it needs for the future," the commissioner said.
She has also underlined that the role of the EU executive institution is limited here as education issues are primarily within the competence of member states.
Lithuanian Education Minister Pavalkis said that recent university enrolment figures showed that only part of young people, who mainly choose social studies, responded to explanations that there's a bigger demand for technological and engineering professions.
"Enrolments to social studies have dropped by some 6 to 7 percent but they have not all gone to technological sciences, engineering sciences. For some reason people have turned to medicine where enrolments have grown significantly," Pavalkis said. "Nobody denies the significance and benefit of social sciences and arts, but we are talking about employment and the public need for the professions we are talking about."
This year, 44 percent of entrants to universities and colleges in Lithuania chose social studies as their priority. 20 percent chose biomedical sciences and 19 percent preferred technological studies.