Europe’s New Skills Agenda – enough Political Will for concrete Actions
Skills are a key element in the prosperity and economic growth of the EU. Despite high unemployment, many employers report difficulties in recruiting staff with the right skills set, particularly the deficit in ICT skills is growing with an estimated 825,000 open vacancies by 2020. There is an pressing need for better anticipation of the skills needed by employers and for development of these skills that will be needed by the labour market. The question is, will there be operational actions included in the agenda and will they be implemented across the EU or will it become an initiative with mere guidelines for the Member States to tackle these issues nationally?
What is needed in the New Strategy
- Reliable labour market data to ascertain and examine the skills gaps and effectively compare these across the EU28
- The anticipation of future skills needed by the market
- Concrete actions to improve the matching of the supply and demand for skills.
Which Priorities are can be expect to see:
- Increasing clarity around the use of current skills (including labour mobility and the recognition of extra EU qualifications)
- Better identification of skills supply, demand and trends (to ensure employability)
- Actions to certify that citizens have updated and relevant skills for the job market
- A political agenda and more European efforts to address the skill shortage in Europe as a whole
The Digital Skills gap has already been addressed by the European Commission, most notably through the Grand Coalition of Digital Jobs which was launched by former EC president Jose Manuel Barroso in 2013. In the spring of 2016, the EC is facing another dimension aside from the challenges of the labour force - the digitalisation and automation which will impact and radically transform work in the all its facts.
As the digital transformation aims to affect many sectors, the EC expects that this will lead to a transformation of the skills needed, and hence for a need for a new set of (digital) skills. In addition to this, an increasing demand for complimentary skills, such as a mix of communication, engineer, entrepreneurial and leadership can be expected.
As part of the strategy for a Digital Single Market, the EC plans in 2016 include organising a structured dialogue with the social partners on the impact of the digital transformation, encourage more national coalitions to be formed with an enlarged scope, support the dialogue between employers and education institutions and work with digital innovation hubs to assist SMEs in finding staff who have the right mix of digital, business and soft skills.
Photo source: official E Skills for Jobs Facebook page