The European Commission launches the new Skills Agenda

On Wednesday 1st July, the European Commission presented the new “European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience”. Building notably on the European Pillar of Social Rights, the agenda seeks to promote training and lifelong learning of Europeans and as well as setting objectives for upskilling (improving existing skills) and reskilling (training in new skills) to be achieved within the next 5 years through partnerships with Member States, companies and social partners.

In the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, many Europeans will indeed need to retrain in a new skill or improve their existing skills to adapt to the changed labour market. In the words of Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights: “The skilling of our workforces is one of our central responses to the recovery, and providing people the chance to build the skillsets they need is key to preparing for the green and digital transitions. It gives everyone the possibility to benefit from new opportunities in a fast-moving labour market.”

The European Skills Agenda consists in the 12 following actions:

  1. A Pact for Skills
  2. Strengthening skills intelligence
  3. EU support for strategic national upskilling action
  4. Proposal for a Council Recommendation on Vocational Education and Training for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience
  5. Rolling out the European universities initiative and upskilling scientists
  6. Skills to support the green and digital transitions
  7. Increasing STEM graduates and fostering entrepreneurial and transversal skills
  8. Skills for Life
  9. Initiative on Individual Learning Accounts
  10. A European approach to micro-credentials
  11. New Europass Platform
  12. Improving the enabling framework to unlock Member States' and private investments in skills

The ambition is to have 540 million training activities for adults by 2025, including 60 million for low-qualified adults, and 40 million for unemployed people. The number of adults with basic digital skills should also increase to 230 million.

To this end, the Commission intends to mobilize different EU funds, notably the Recovery Plan, the European Social Fund Plus (proposed budget of €86 b.), Erasmus (€26 b.), InvestEU's Social Investment and Skills window (€3.6 b.), but also the new Digital Europe Programme (€9.2 b.) for advanced digital skills development as well as the Recovery and Resilience Facility, powered by €560 billion in grants and loans to Member States.

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