Employment Committee analyses European Skills Agendas 2010-2020.

JS – 11/2020

In 2010, 2016 and most recently July 2020, the European Commission published a new European Skills Agenda. This shows a clear process of change and development of skills that require considerable effort when it comes to policy-making. This is the conclusion of an analysis published in October 2020 by the European Parliament Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL).

European Pillar of Social Rights, Green Deal and Digital Agenda

The EU faces a number of challenges in the green and digital transformation. While some of these transitions will create new jobs, others will change or disappear altogether. In order to open up new fields of employment, investment in skills development is needed.

"The best investment in our future is the investment in our people. Skills and education drive Europe’s competitiveness and innovation." stated Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission President, when publishing the current Skills Agenda in July 2020.

The EMPL Committee also sees this change in its analysis: at the time, the agenda 2010 focused on employment and education aspects. However, the two agendas from 2016 and 2020 focused on the development of competencies with a view to the labour market.

The Skills Agenda 2020 reflected the major EU policy initiatives, such as the European Pillar of Social Rights, the Digital Agenda and the Green Deal. These strategies also see skills as an important aspect of citizens' competitiveness and well-being.

Current challenges

The analysis of the EMPL Committee identifies as existing difficulties in particular a relatively low participation of (low-skilled) adults in education and training, a high number of early school leavers, a lack of quality and attractiveness of education and training, and a mismatch between acquired and demanded qualifications. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted this issue even further.

To counter this, corresponding strategies now exist at European and international level with similar key elements, as shown by the analysis: Increasing investment, building national partnerships and promoting middle-level qualifications that will allow for upward mobility.

The analysis of the EMPL Committee places particular emphasis on coordinated investment plans in order to implement the qualification policy. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) propose comprehensive policies, partnerships and sufficient investment.

In the current situation, the analysis sees the urgent need to adapt skills in the face of aggravated economic conditions as a dilemma. The analysis calls for appropriate political efforts and for incorporation of results of systematic analysis of past agendas into future ones.

Social security needs appropriate qualifications

The provision of precisely tailored skills for the labour market of the future is also of considerable importance with regard to the social security systems: to ensure the sustainable financing of the systems, people who can be employed in this very labour market are needed, especially in our ageing society.

The European Skills Agenda is a five-year plan. It is designed to help individuals and companies develop additional and higher-level skills and use them accordingly.