On Monday the 20th of June 2016, more than 500 stakeholders from a wide spectrum of employment and education stakeholders gathered on the invitation of the European Commission on the occasion of the high level launch of the New Skills Agenda for Europe.
Aiming at boosting human capital, employability and competitiveness, and adopted on 10 June 2016 (Communication: A New Skills Agenda for Europe – Working together to strengthen human capital, employability and competitiveness), the New Skills Agenda shall help the Member States to address the pressing concerns and prepare for the future. It therefore focus on improving the quality and relevance of skills formation, making skills and qualifications more visible and comparable but also improving skills intelligence and information for better career choices.
The launch event marks an important new step in delivering on the Commission’s socio-economic agenda and featured high-level speakers from European and international institutions such as Mr Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commission Vice-president, as well as Ms Marianne THYSSEN, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Mr. Tibor NAVRACSICS, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport but also Mr. Evarist BARTOLO, Minister for Education and Employment of Malta, Mr. Michel SERVOZ, Director-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, European Commission, Ms Danuta JAZŁOWIECKA, Vice-Chair of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee, European Parliament, Ms Martine REICHERTS, Director-General for Education and Culture, European Commission, Mr. Andreas SCHLEICHER, Director for Education and Skills, OECD and Ms Lowri EVANS, Director-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission
Interestingly it was made highly interactive with the use of social media and a devoted app.
You may wonder what makes this New Agenda a promising one. Fact is at time of crisis, in an ever changing world, there is a price tag attached to each skills mismatch. At EOSE we believe the Agenda is worth investing in because, as Commissioner Thyssen timely pointed out, “it is an agenda for all“! It indeed embraces the whole spectrum of the society from learners to workers, young to old and call upon cooperation between all actors: Members States, social partners, the industry, training provider, civil society and other stakeholders. With this new Agenda, the Commission is putting emphasis on skills investment and Commissioner Navracsics was right to mention that “it is only by considering human capital as an investment (not an expense) that we can build Europe”. That is the reason why it is crucial to think not only about the skills needed but also where and when do we teach/pass on these skills. Schools at a very early age should be more connected to the real world through work based learning activities (as Mr Bartolo mentioned “education should be contaminated with as much economic and social reality as possible and civil society organisations have a major role to play”) but lifelong learning approaches are also key. Last but not least, we are convinced that the strong focus put on Vocational Education and Training will be a key asset for the future of Europe.
Overall, the Agenda is made of ten activities to be taken forward in the next two years and designed to match the skills of the people with the labour market needs of both today and tomorrow.
Let us mentioned in particular:
– 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 Skills Guarantee to help low-skilled adults acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills and progress towards an upper secondary qualification.
– The ‘Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills’ to improve skills intelligence and address skills shortages in specific economic sectors.
– A Graduate tracking initiative to improve information on how graduates progress in the labour market.
As for the financing of this bunch of initiatives, there will be no new fund. However, Ms Evans and Ms Reicherts, clearly highlighted that the Agenda will help the Member States to make the best use of existing funds and in particular the European Social Fund. In addition, it was reminded that the Erasmus plus budget will increase by 10% each year starting from next year.
As it is often the case, the most crucial part of the event was the opportunities offered to network and build partnerships for skills. In particular EOSE took the opportunity of this event to strengthen the link with civil society organisation (students association as well as FEDEC, the European Federation of Circus School).
Watch the “New Skills Agenda for Europe” video
This article, What is in the New Skills Agenda for Europe?, first appeared on EOSE – European Observatoire of Sport and Employment.