Ingredients for a European Skills Agenda

28 January 2016

Skills is a hot topic, both on the regional, national and European level. The European Commission will present a European Skills Agenda on the 25th of May 2016. During a Neth-ER Seminar, international experts have shared and discussed ideas and ingredients for this European Skills Agenda. A public consultation will be opened by the European Commission in February 2016.

What should be the set of skills that young people need to find and create future jobs? How can we upgrade the skills of European people? These questions form the context of the upcoming Skills Agenda and the Neth-ER Skills Seminar of 27 January 2016. The seminar started with keynote speeches from the OECD and UEAPME (a European association representing SME’s). In their contributions the topics ‘the skills we have’ and ‘the future skills we need’ in Europe were addressed. After a plenary start, the experts were mixed into two parallel sessions, one on vocational education and training (VET) and one on higher education.

Skills for the region or for the world?
The parallel sessions were focussed on finding practical insights, experiences and questions that the Commission could address in the Skills Agenda. Examples of Erasmus+ regulations that stifle mobility were mentioned and questions were raised about the notion of what skills are and which skills students need. There was some discussion on the extent to which skills need to be relevant for the regional economy or for a European labour market. In the VET sector the majority of the people emphasised the importance of the region, while in the higher education sector generic, more transversal skills for an international labour market were mentioned as crucial success factors.

The upcoming Skills Agenda
The representatives of the Commission underlined that skills are on the top of the EU agenda, and that they want a smart approach to tackle the problems. The Skills Agenda will not be a broad multi-annual strategy but an agenda to identify and tackle very specific problems that people face on the labour market. The three main topics of the Skills Agenda will be:

  1. providing the skills the economy needs;
  2. making skills transparent for employers;
  3. understanding the skills needs of tomorrow.

Timeline
In February 2016 an online consultation will be opened by the European Commission. Stakeholders, policy makers and experts will be able to give their input in a structured way. From the European Commission we understood that the European Skills Agenda is due to be adopted on 25 May 2016. After the publication, Council and Parliament will have their say on the document.

More information
Article Neth-ER: Bussemaker benadrukt gezamenlijke uitdagingen in EP
Article Neth-ER: Europese Commissie onderstreept belang vaardigheden
Article Neth-ER: Dutch ministers present priorities in Parliament

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