Without an agile and skilled workforce, Europe will lag behind in reaching its climate goals, says the European Commission. The Year of Skills is the EU’s fresh approach to stimulating the labour market.
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Europe is facing an increasing shortage of skilled labour, which is further intensified by the digital and green transition. In response to this challenge, the European Commission has launched the European Year of Skills. What does this mean, and how to address the labour market’s needs?
Labour shortages in Europe
Across the EU, employers say they’re finding it tough to find workers with the necessary skills. A quarter of the 25 million SMEs in Europe say hiring good quality managers and staff is their biggest problem.
In 2022, the vacancy rate in the European Union was 2.8%, ranging from 0.8% in Romania to 4.6% in Austria. This rate is higher than pre-pandemic levels in most member states.
To hit its climate goals, the EU needs more skilled workers. The solar industry alone will require one million skilled workers by 2030, twice as many as today.
The Year of Skills
The European Pillar of Social Rights guarantees the right to education and training.
However only 37% of adults engage in training, and the EU wants to raise that figure to 60%.
The European Commission’s Year of Skills is a fresh initiative, working with EU member states, social partners, commerce and industry, and education and training centres – to address the continent’s labour concerns.
There are four main objectives to the Year of Skills:
- Promoting investment in training and upskilling
- Making sure skills match employer needs
- Matching people’s aspirations and skill sets with opportunities on the job market
- Attracting skilled people from outside the EU
Pact of skill
One key tool to make that happen is the Pact for Skills, which supports public and private organisations to identify skills gaps and address them.
The Pact is open to all, including national, regional and local authorities; companies; social partners; cross-industry and sectoral organisations; chambers of commerce; education and training providers; and employment services.
Those who join, must agree to uphold the Pact’s four key principles:
– promoting a culture of lifelong learning for all
– building strong skill partnerships
– monitoring skill supply/demand and anticipating skill needs
– working against discrimination and for gender equality and equal opportunities
Almost 1,500 organisations have now joined the Pact and committed to offering at least 10 million up-skilling and reskilling opportunities for Europeans.
The Year of skills is arriving at a pivotal moment for Europe. The labour market has yet to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and is being disrupted even further by the war in Ukraine. The digital transition and the green revolution will also put further pressures as employers seek skilled professionals in engineering and robotics. In supporting innovation, promoting education and empowering people, the European commission is hoping the Year of Skills will stimulate the labour market and help member states reach their social, digital and climate goals.