Digitisation, longer working lives and the Green Deal as challenges for the world of work

LB – 07/2022

According to the recommendations of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), society and the world of work are undergoing a profound change. Digitisation and its increasing dynamics, demographic developments and, last but not least, the climate goals within the framework of the Green Deal pose the challenges of the next decades, the effects of which are also evident in the growing shortage of skilled workers, among other things. Added to this is the management of current crises, such as the coronavirus pandemic and the effects of the war in Ukraine, which require companies and their employees to be able to react and adapt quickly.

Education secures the future of Europe

Therefore, general education and vocational training are crucial for Europe's labour market and prosperity. In the European Pillar of Social Rights the EU has formulated the "right to general education, vocational training and lifelong learning" as an indispensable principle. Its implementation is also on the EESC's agenda.

Recommendations for the promotion of vocational education and training

In a public hearing, the results of a recent Study by the Labour Market Observatory were discussed with representatives of the European institutions, the social partners and other civil society organisations. The study presented examined labour market challenges and trends in 12 EU countries, collected examples of good practice and made recommendations to encourage both EU Member States and their companies to better integrate lifelong learning and training into the labour market. Two of the most important recommendations were to guarantee lifelong learning and continuing education as an individual right of workers and to strengthen social dialogue.

Fields of action within the EU

A major problem within the EU was the lack of a standardised system for skills of all EU workers as part of their professional career. In order to improve labour mobility, recognition, certification and assessment tools need to be better harmonised across the EU. The study states that there is no standard for this in any Member State so far.

A special role is played by interdisciplinary skills, for the acquisition of which the participants also saw a need for adaptation in education systems. Aspects of inclusion were also addressed. Not only companies and providers, but also the workforce should be spurred on to continuously train in order to continuously meet changing demands ("upskilling and reskilling").

Lifelong learning is part of the social rights of EU citizens. There is no 'one-size-fits-all solution’ to skills challenges – it requires a variety of measures at different levels and the cooperation of policy makers, social partners and civil society at European, national and local levels.