A new skills agenda for Europe

On 20 June the European Commission hosted the launch of the New Skills Agenda for Europe that aims to support the development of citizens’ skills to prepare them for the changing world of work and our society. According to the latest PIAAC (OECD Survey of Adult Skills) study, about 70 million Europeans lack a sufficient level of basic skills such as reading, writing and numeracy; this puts their employment and social inclusion in jeopardy. Moreover there is a great need to invest in skills development, and to recognise skills. The SOLIDAR Foundation attended the meeting with great interest, especially since an initiative in the field of education and employment, focusing on the development of skills and competences, was long awaited, and needed to support investment in lifelong learning. However the success of this proposal is in the hands of the Member States.

This year’s World Economic Forum in Davos also looked at the skills needed in 2020 (See “Future of jobs” report) where priority is being given to skills such as complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, soft and transversal skills such as working with others, emotional intelligence or service orientation. During the Commission’s event, the significant majority of participants also named civic and social competences as top priority skills in need of investment (that won over profession specific, and high-end skills). However, yet again, the priority is given to “right skills to grow and innovate” – skills to nurture entrepreneurship, competitiveness and innovation.

SOLIDAR Foundation together with its members advocates for putting a stronger emphasis on investment in the development of transversal skills that will give people the ability to transform and adjust to changing societies and work environments. We need to work as well on the greater visibility of skills and competences through the process of validation and recognition that is accompanied by guidance services. Member States should support the process of skills and competence development, through investment in lifelong learning policies and recognising their role regarding labour market and social policies to support social inclusion and the development of talent.

“A new skills agenda for Europe” proposal contains ten actions proposed by the European Commission, where the first four would be launched now, and the remaining ones will be further developed in the course of the next two years.

  • A Skills Guarantee to help low-skilled adults acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills and progress towards an upper secondary qualification.
  • A review of the European Qualifications Framework for a better understanding of qualifications and to make better use of all available skills in the European labour market.
  • The "Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition" bringing together Member States and education, employment and industry stakeholders to develop a large digital talent pool and ensure that individuals and the labour force in Europe are equipped with adequate digital skills.
  • The “Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills” to improve skills intelligence and address skills shortages in specific economic sectors.

Other actions that will be launched later this year and in 2017 are:

  • A "Skills Profile Tool for Third Country Nationals" to support early identification and profiling of skills and qualifications of asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants.
  • A revision of the Europass Framework, offering people better and easier-to-use tools to present their skills and get useful real-time information on skills needs and trends which can help with career and learning choices.
  • Making Vocational Education and Training (VET) a first choice by enhancing opportunities for VET learners to undertake a work based learning experience and promoting greater visibility of good labour market outcomes of VET.
  • A review of the Recommendation on Key Competences to help more people acquire the core set of skills necessary to work and live in the 21st century with a special focus on promoting entrepreneurial and innovation-oriented mind-sets and skills.
  • An initiative on graduate tracking to improve information on how graduates progress in the labour market.
  • A proposal to further analyse and exchange best practices on effective ways to address brain drain.

Related content