I was reminded to apply the same question to Europeans in general as part of an investigation into the future of work being undertaken for a client. The findings to date predict a truly global and “frictionless” marketplace where, by 2020, skills and experience will be matched with job profiles and budgets through a sort of “global employment dashboard”, probably residing somewhere in the Cloud.
How will Europe compete in such a competitive environment? Well, it certainly won’t be on cost…
Europeans will have to find clear distinction; what they are good at, where their value lies in order to compete in an increasingly frictionless market.
To this end, my colleagues and I have been trying to compile a list of sectors, expertise, and markets where Europe really excels. These are areas where skills and heritage built up over centuries give Europe an unassailable competitive advantage.
First, we start with the serious list; by 2020, Europeans will still be in a position of competitive advantage in the following:
- London is the world’s largest financial centre
- Europe remains the world’s largest exporter of aerospace products and equipment (Europe: $120bn vs. USA: $81bn)
- France remains the world’s #1 tourist destination
- 80% of the world’s most valuable global brands are either French or Italian
- Europe produces more than 427 hectolitres of beer per year – more than China and the USA (393hl and 234hl respectively)
- 9 out of 10 of the world’s most valuable watch brands are European
- Spain, France and Italy are the world’s largest wine producers
Next, the list of slightly less serious areas where the Europeans excel however:
- Beer drinking – NINE of the top ten beer consuming countries are European
- Nude sunbathing – NINE of the world’s top ten best nudist beaches are European
- Academic heritage – all TEN of the world’s oldest universities still operating are European
- Paid vacation – European countries account for NINE of the top ten in terms of statutory paid holidays given to employees
- Miss World winners – since its inauguration in 1951, more winners have come from Europe than any other continent
I’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions for either list. So in 2020, when the question arises, “What have the Europeans ever done for us?” we’ll have our answers ready!