At the invitation of French Labour Minister
Elisabeth Borne, EU social affairs ministers met at a special informal meeting
Within the framework of the French Council
Presidency, the focus of the "Employment, Social Policy, Health and
Consumer Protection Council" was the transformation of the world of work.
The debate focused on the effects from a labour market policy perspective as
well as the influence of digitisation and ecological development.
Lifelong learning is indispensable
Ministers exchanged views on possible
policy measures such as promoting skills development and training as well as
support for professional transitions. Citizens must have the opportunity to
further their education, retrain or acquire additional qualifications. This is
essential in order not to overwhelm anyone with the changing world of work.
Likewise, professional integration was discussed.
Implementation in partnership
In order to implement the ambitious goals,
those present agreed that social dialogue should be intensified at national and
European level. Cooperation on the part of employer and employee
representatives is required. In the presence of the European collective
bargaining partners, several MEPs as well as representatives of civil society
and international organisations, the European ministers agreed to invest in
qualification measures and to support professional transition phases.
Significant changes in the labour market
New jobs will be created, many will be cut
back or will evolve to a higher level. These changes bring not only new skills
requirement laid down by employers, but also the need to support vocational
retraining of workers whose jobs have become insecure.
Skills more important than ever
The ministers also talked about how to
create a fairer and more inclusive labour market. The European
Skills Agenda could ensure that the right to education and lifelong
learning becomes a reality in the EU. This right is set out in the European
Pillar of Social Rights. Member States must bring skills improvement to the
fore in policy-making. The debate could continue at the next Employment, Social
Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting on 14 March 2022.