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Procedure : 2014/2235(INI)
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Document selected : A8-0222/2015

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PV 09/09/2015 - 17
CRE 09/09/2015 - 17

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PV 10/09/2015 - 8.8
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Thursday, 10 September 2015 - Strasbourg
Creating a competitive EU labour market for the 21st century

European Parliament resolution of 10 September 2015 on creating a competitive EU labour market for the 21st century: matching skills and qualifications with demand and job opportunities, as a way to recover from the crisis (2014/2235(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 October 2014 on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: implementation of 2014 priorities(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 April 2014 on ‘How can the European Union contribute to creating a hospitable environment for enterprises, businesses and start-ups to create jobs?’(2),

–  having regard to its position of 29 April 2015 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 1304/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council on the European Social Fund, as regards an increase of the initial pre-financing amount paid to operational programmes supported by the Youth Employment Initiative(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 July 2014 on Youth Employment(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 January 2014 on respect for the fundamental right of freedom of movement in the EU(5),

–  having regard to one of the priorities of the European Council conclusions of 26-27 June 2014: to help develop skills, and unlock talent and life changes for all by promoting the right skills for the modern economy and lifelong learning,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 17 January 2014 for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a European network of Employment Services, workers’ access to mobility services and the further integration of labour markets (COM(2014)0006),

–  having regard to the Council Recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of learning outcomes of non-formal and informal learning(6),

–  having regard to Recommendation 2006/962/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 on key competences for lifelong learning(7),

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Culture and Education (A8-0222/2015),

A.  whereas the existence of occupations where job vacancies cannot be filled owing to a lack of qualified workers varies greatly from one Member State to another;

B.  whereas, according to the Commission(8), up to 12,4 million people have been out of work for more than a year and, of those, 6 million for more than two years; whereas long-term unemployment has a negative impact on economic growth and the sustainability of social welfare systems and can become a structural problem;

C.  whereas labour market rigidities and the lack of internal demand and investment are having a negative impact on job creation, while a competitive EU labour market that takes into account these three factors can contribute to achieving the Europe 2020 employment and anti-poverty and social exclusion targets;

D.  whereas the demand for lower-qualified workers is falling while the demand for highly qualified workers is increasing considerably; whereas this shift in the EU labour market requires action to be taken on workers’ skills and initial and vocational training;

E.  whereas, in 2012, one in three European employees were either over- or under-qualified for their jobs(9); and whereas young employees are typically more likely to be formally over-qualified, whilst also more likely than older workers to work in jobs less matched to their skills;

F.  whereas some studies suggest that a relevant part of the existing jobs will disappear or greatly diminish in quantity as a result of automatisation;

G.  whereas the drive towards a higher-skilled economy means that over the next five years many more businesses expect to increase the number of jobs requiring leadership, management and higher skills;

H.  whereas the mobility of European workers enhances their employability and improves competitiveness in the EU labour market;

The economic crisis and its aftermath

1.  Notes that in the wake of the European economic and financial crisis and the consequent economic slowdown, a number of Member States are struggling with high unemployment levels (EU 28: 9,8 %) as well as public debt, low growth and insufficient investment; notes the cuts in public expenditure; is further concerned that in many Member States youth unemployment rates (EU 28: 20,9 %) are much higher and cases of improvement and lower rates are rare;

2.  Considers that ambitious economic and social policies and labour market reforms are needed in order to boost smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and create more jobs leading towards quality and sustainable employment; further stresses the need for sustainable social welfare systems which include upgrading the skills of the unemployed, fostering the employability of people lacking or having really low qualifications, as well as for incentives and opportunities to work;

Situation on the EU labour market

3.  Notes that even if labour supply is sufficient to match labour demand, there might still be qualitative shortages, as those looking for work may not be suitable for any given vacant position as a result of a mismatch between sector, occupation or skills requirements;

4.  Is concerned that unemployment rates in the EU remain relatively high (March 2015, EU 28: 9,8 %), and have significantly decreased only in a few countries, and draws attention to the considerable differences between Member States, with the lowest unemployment rates being in Germany and Austria (around 5 %) and the highest in Greece and Spain (at 26 % and 23 % respectively(10)); whereas these huge disparities increase the risk of labour market fragmentation both within and between the Member States, which might undermine the EU’s economic stability and social cohesion;

5.  Draws attention to the fact that the average employment rate for women in the EU is more than 10 percentage points lower than that of men, and stresses that the achievement of the 75 % employment rate target as outlined in the Europe 2020 strategy is conditional upon increasing the employment rate for women through policies aimed at reconciliation of work and home duties in particular;

6.  Notes that youth unemployment varies significantly across the EU, with unemployment rates among young people aged 16 to 25 being higher than 50 % in some Member States; stresses that high levels of youth unemployment, in addition to the fact that they affect an entire generation, jeopardise the balance between generations;

7.  Highlights that there is still a 26 % difference in the rate of employment for people with disabilities compared to the average EU employment rate, with the employment rate for people with disabilities standing lower than 50 %;

8.  Is deeply concerned about the levels of youth unemployment in Europe; underlines in this regard the importance of dual education such as vocational training and apprenticeships in matching the skills of young people with the demands of the labour market;

9.  Stresses that elements such as a skilled work force, the capacity to innovate, increasing purchasing power and a stable socio-economic and political environment are indispensable in order to harvest a good investment climate;

10.  Notes the high level of long-term unemployment, warning of the need to combat it immediately, in view of the resilience with which it is associated;

11.  Notes that several important challenges are affecting Europe’s labour market, including globalisation, ageing society, rapid technological changes such as digitisation and robotisation, mismatches between skills and jobs and increasing demand for highly skilled workers, with a surplus supply of low-skilled workers, causing wage polarisation;

12.  Notes, however, the risks highlighted by CEDEFOP regarding the perpetuation of skills mismatch and skills obsolescence due to low demand driving high unemployment;

13.  Highlights the considerable differences in job openings between Member States, underlines in this regard that job openings are a crucial element of a dynamic labour market which matches skills and jobs and which creates opportunities and possibilities for businesses and employees, and is deeply concerned about the static situation in the labour markets in some Member States; calls therefore for a European benchmark on job openings in the Member States; data for such a benchmark could be collected yearly through the Labour Force Survey and should, as a minimum, measure: the number of job openings in a Member State; the average duration of unemployment;

14.  Points out that Europe has 24 million unemployed people, including 7,5 million NEETs, on the one hand, and on the other two million vacancies, and that European companies are affected by a huge lack of skilled people and labour force with transferable skills;

15.  Points out that, despite high unemployment rates in some Member States and unfilled job vacancies in others, intra-EU labour mobility remains low (EU 27: 0,29 %), as a result inter alia of existing barriers, and by international comparison, being almost 10 times lower than that of the United States and 5 times lower than in Australia; draws attention to the seven million EU citizens living or working, as of 2013, in a Member State other than their country of citizenship; recalls also that there are currently two million unfilled vacancies in the EU; emphasises, therefore, the need for fair labour mobility in the Union in order to fill this gap;

16.  Notes that the EU labour market can assist in absorbing the large pockets of unemployment existing in various regions of Europe;

17.  Believes that the EU labour market shall adapt to the culture, production model and business structure of the various regions of Europe, and that the differences between them shall be taken into account when adopting measures to make the labour market more flexible;

18.  Recalls that in an economic downturn individuals face bigger challenges in finding jobs, and that at times they have to accept jobs with lower educational requirements than those which they hold; stresses that growth through the creation of high-skill jobs and efforts to stimulate job creation through the facilitation of investment in new sectors are therefore relevant means of mitigating the prevalence of over-qualification within EU economies;

Fostering a competitive EU labour market

19.  Believes that in order to achieve a competitive EU labour market, ambitious reforms are needed which increase inclusiveness, smart flexibility, innovation and mobility, strengthen the role of social dialogue, stimulate the creation of more jobs leading towards quality and sustainable employment, boost productivity and contribute to the development of human capital, in the light of constantly changing labour markets and production patterns;

20.  Stresses the need for continued efforts to bring education, training and labour markets together, and reiterates that generating smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, competitiveness and job creation in Europe should be achieved through a holistic approach that reflects labour market needs and supports vulnerable groups by improving working conditions and providing incentives;

21.  Stresses that public employment services have an important role in ensuring that the return to job growth does not come at the expense of lower-quality skills matches;

22.  Recalls the importance of making employment law more comprehensible for workers and employers, of eliminating barriers to employment and of promoting legal security for companies and employees;

23.  Stresses that young people often face increasing difficulties in their transition from education to work and, therefore, are usually more vulnerable to unemployment, and are more likely to be in low-quality and precarious jobs;

24.  Highlights the importance of the European Skills, Competences, Qualifications and Occupations (ESCO) initiative, which identifies and categorises skills, competences, qualifications and occupations relevant for the EU labour market and education and training, in 25 European languages;

25.  Stresses the importance of human development, career flexibility and personal engagement; recalls in this respect that professional mobility is an essential factor and that substantial investment is needed to actively support employability and adaptability and prevent skills depletion among the unemployed;

26.  Underlines the importance of social investments which aim is to create an activating state that provides workers with instruments enabling them to adapt easily to changing social and economic conditions and to the demands of the labour markets;

27.  Believes that an internationally competitive skills base will enable Member States to capture high-value segments of the global market;

28.  Stresses that the circular economy has the potential to create millions of jobs across the EU and to lead to sustainable and inclusive growth;

29.  Recalls the importance of the mobility of workers, geographically and across sectors, as a choice for a competitive labour market, and stresses the need to reduce the administrative and linguistic barriers that are liable to restrict it, and to further develop tools to facilitate mobility such as swift recognition of formal, non-formal or informal qualifications between Member States, the European Qualifications Framework, the European CV and the European Skills Passport, as well as providing sector-specific language courses and training on intercultural communication; encourages the raising of awareness of, and further improvement of, the EU-wide EURES job portal by ensuring, in particular, that a sufficient number of EURES advisors are trained and distributed equally throughout EU territory in order to make EURES an essential tool in the EU job market; stresses the importance of enhanced cooperation among national public employment services and the future inclusion of private employment services and other stakeholders in the EURES network; stresses the importance of EU initiatives aimed at stimulating mobility and creating opportunities, such as ERASMUS+, the European Qualifications Framework, the Europass CV, the European Skills Passport, the European Job Mobility Portal (EURES), the Knowledge Alliances and the European Alliance for Apprenticeships; calls for better promotion of these initiatives with a view to improving the labour market in Europe;

30.  Reiterates that the great economic potential of women needs to be unlocked in Europe, and that it is necessary to create the appropriate conditions for women to progress in their career and pursue higher positions in companies or start their own businesses; stresses that there is a need to close the gap between women’s educational attainment and their participation and position in the labour market; recalls the importance of gender equality, including eradicating the gender pay gap and raising the employment rate for women, as well as reinforcing work-life balance policies, as a part of achieving the Europe 2020 employment targets;

31.  Welcomes the positive results achieved by the Your First Eures Job (YfEj) pilot job mobility scheme, which can effectively reach young people and develop tailored services for both jobseekers and employers; highlights the positive spillovers between the YfEj scheme and EURES;

32.  Against this background, stresses the importance of active labour policies, lifelong learning and improving people’s ability to adapt to technological change; calls on the Member States to increase the scope and efficiency of active labour market policies;

33.  Considers that a coherent and comprehensive strategy towards more effective and mutually beneficial forms of work organisation, by making full use of workers’ knowledge potential and increasing the quality of their jobs, will help labour market resilience; more participative and empowering forms of work organisation could be developed to strengthen employees’ involvement in innovation and support workers’ involvement and skills use development and, as a consequence, companies’ performance;

34.  Stresses, that given the predicted rapid labour market changes, it is in the youth of today that education and training investment is necessary; stresses that skills policies should not be aimed at fulfilling labour market needs only, but at equipping the individual with the necessary transversal competences to develop as active and responsible citizens; calls on the Commission and the Member States to respect the fact that education and training are neither merely a labour market instrument nor meant to educate future workers, but constitute first and foremost a fundamental right and have a value in themselves;

Anticipation of future skills needs

35.  Believes that, in order to anticipate future skills needs, labour market stakeholders, including employers’ and employees’ organisations, and education and training providers must be strongly involved at all levels, in particular in designing, implementing and evaluating vocational qualification programmes, which provide an effective transition from formal education to work-based learning;

36.  Calls for a better understanding of present and future skills needs, and for the enhancement of the existing EU Skills Panorama, in order to better identify skills gaps and deficits in specific sectors, occupations and regions, and to ensure that the information about evolving skills needs is gathered, processed and disseminated among decision-makers and public authorities, education and training providers, and employers, so that future trends can be more effectively anticipated;

37.  Believes that education is crucial for driving research and innovation output, thus furthering the possibilities for job creation in highly skilled sectors and in turn boosting the competitiveness of the European economy;

38.  Stresses the importance of more integrated partnerships and trust between schools, higher education establishments, businesses and other relevant authorities with a view to estimating labour needs for the future, reviewing and implementing new vocational training programmes and fostering cooperation and exchange of good practices between Member States and regional and local authorities, including by monitoring the imbalances on the labour market at regional and local level; recalls that at the same time social responsibility on the part of all stakeholders is needed, as well as their involvement in further developing monitoring and forecasting tools;

39.  Believes that Member States have an important role to play in ensuring there is an adequate supply of science and maths teachers in order to equip young people with knowledge and enthusiasm for STEM subjects;

40.  Stresses the importance of addressing the needs of children at school from a very young age; recommends that the Member States adopt innovative measures and incorporate them into learning processes in- and outside of school, and reform or update school environments, teaching methods and teacher competences; suggests that school curricula in Member States be adapted to include class visits to other countries during the school year, taking education beyond the classroom at a very early stage;

The importance of continuous education and training for all labour market actors

41.  Recalls that the right to education is a fundamental right and stresses the need to strive for a more flexible and individual approach to career development and lifelong education and training across one’s personal career path, and recognises the role that both public and private parties can play in providing this, while recognising that guidance and counselling which address individual needs and focus on the evaluation and expansion of individual skills must be a core element of education and skills policies from an early stage;

42.  Recognises the importance of fostering work-based learning apprenticeships as an alternative route to employment;

43.  Notes that the European policies for Lifelong Guidance have had a considerable impact on national guidance policies and that effective lifelong guidance requires programmes in a cross-cutting perspective at all levels;

44.  Notes that a variety of pathways must be available to young people, and that the definitions of such pathways (internships, traineeships) vary across Europe;

45.  Believes that training and requalification programmes for the unemployed, especially for the long-term unemployed, as well as skills assessment programmes, should be offered to people to enhance their chances on the labour market and should be designed and implemented in close cooperation with employers’ associations and trade unions, organisations representing the unemployed, and private and public employment services, with a view to better aligning workers’ new skills with the future needs of the labour market; stresses that special programmes need to be developed and implemented to help the reintegration of the long-term unemployed into the labour market;

46.  Highlights the need for the Commission to strengthen the monitoring of the Youth Guarantee National Implementation Plans and their effective deployment on the ground; with a view to this, calls on the Commission to elaborate clear and unambiguous Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs) to Member States with regard to the implementation of the Youth Guarantee and the quality of employment;

47.  Highlights the European Court of Auditors’ concerns as expressed in its report “Young and unemployed in Europe: obstacles ahead for the EU’s Youth Guarantee”, regarding in particular the adequacy of total funding for the scheme, the definition of a “good‑quality offer”, and the way the Commission monitors and reports on the results;

48.  Recalls that it is of utmost importance to give tailor-made guidance and counselling to jobseekers on how to look for a job or on which further education and training to undertake in order to ensure that their skills and competences are transferable, recognised and validated through ‘competences passports’ such as the Europass, reflecting the skills and competences acquired through formal, non-formal and informal learning, and that the guidance given to jobseekers should have the particular aim of optimising their employment opportunities;

49.  Underlines the need to increase the adaptability of the workforce as a way to counter future shortages; calls on the Member States to use the structural funds, especially the European Social Fund, for this purpose;

50.  Stresses that the right to education and training is of special importance to the long-term unemployed; recalls that the long-term unemployed benefit most from approach targeting their specific needs and not from standard measures; stresses that the long-term unemployed need to know about their right to training, that measures targeting them need to respect take-up options and that training needs to be affordable and decent and to address their actual needs; recalls that if these conditions are met, the long-term unemployed will be able to use upskilling as an opportunity to improve their working and living conditions;

51.  Stresses the importance of the Youth Guarantee as a tool to assist young people in the school-to-work transition and to acquire the education, skills and experience required to find a good-quality job through an apprenticeship, traineeship or continued education;

52.  Emphasises the importance of ensuring equal opportunities, and access to education and training, particularly for disadvantaged groups, and of providing effective support in the fight against social exclusion and in facilitating access to work;

Strengthening connections between education and employment

53.  Stresses the need to strengthen, and better target, measures aimed at reducing the rate of early school leaving (ESL) to below 10 % by 2020, as agreed in the Europe 2020 strategy, taking into account that ESL is a persistent problem in the EU that has a detrimental impact on the employability and social integration of the young people concerned;

54.  Believes that dual vocational training through apprenticeships and similar work-based learning systems should be given more consideration and should prioritise quality, without academic bias, as it tends to favour integration into the labour market and a smoother transition from education to work and has proved to be effective in fostering youth employment;

55.  Believes that the vocational training systems that exist today are the result of certain historical and cultural forces and have been shaped by prevailing legal norms, traditions, pedagogical principles and institutional structures;

56.  Highlights the highly concerning data on the rate of young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs), which in the majority of Member States exceeds 10 %; stresses the direct link between high levels of youth unemployment and early school leaving; stresses that without urgent and decisive action at both European and national level a whole generation of young Europeans risks being deprived of sufficient levels of education and training and therefore being excluded from the labour market, with dramatic repercussions for the social fabric, social and territorial cohesion, and the sustainability of the European economic model as a whole;

57.  Underlines that each national vocational training system is a tool for achieving certain objectives which can differ from one country to another, and that each one can therefore be judged only by its success in achieving those objectives; stresses that exporting a vocational training system from one country to another is possible only if conditions in the respective countries are comparable or can be adapted;

58.  Reiterates the importance of vocational education and training (VET) for enhancing employability and clearing the pathway to professional qualifications for young people; calls on the Commission and the Member States to reinforce the relevance of VET to labour market needs by making them an integral part of the education system, and to guarantee high qualification standards and quality assurance in this regard;

59.  Points out that alongside two million unfilled job vacancies in the EU, there are many over-qualified unemployed young people whose skills do not match the demands of the labour market; underlines, therefore, the importance of better synergies between education systems and the labour market, including exposure to the workplace, internships and cooperation with businesses, in order to promote and significantly increase the employment level and to create innovative clusters; stresses the important role businesses can play by engaging with the educational systems in their Member States; emphasises that a comprehensive long-term strategy, paired with immediate measures, is needed to adapt education systems at all levels, including vocational training, to the current and future needs of the labour market;

60.  Welcomes the Commission’s initiative of the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA), which aims to bring together public authorities, businesses, social partners, VET providers, youth representatives and other key actors in order to promote apprenticeship schemes and initiatives across Europe;

61.  Highlights the importance of dual education and training programmes, combining theory with practical training, as a key element in developing skills and competencies that respond to labour market needs, and encourages the Member States to integrate such programmes into their curricula in order to provide the practical experience needed to facilitate a smooth transition from education and training to the labour market;

62.  Stresses the importance of career orientation and work experience through assessment and career advice that focuses on individual skills and needs and is provided by highly qualified employment counsellors and peer counsellors, in order to ensure that young people are equipped with the right information, advice and guidance to make sound career choices;

63.  Highlights the important role that education and training institutions play in developing students’ skills and competences; calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop high-quality and targeted career guidance throughout the education cycle to help young people take the right decisions with regard to their education and career choices;

64.  Notes that for a successful transition to employment, it is of great importance to take informed decisions, develop a sense of initiative and increase motivation and self-awareness, whilst appropriate support in this regard should also be made available; stresses the importance of quality transitions, including the transitions from education to work, between jobs, and between employment and career breaks;

65.  Recalls that investing in education and in developing skills that respond to the demands of the labour market and society is essential for growth and competitiveness, as well as for European awareness, personal development and self-confidence; points out that entrepreneurship requires the development of transversal skills such as creativity, critical thinking, teamwork and a sense of initiative which contribute to young people’s personal and professional development and facilitate their earlier entry into the job market; stresses that such investment should be supported by stronger synergies between European and national initiatives, involving the various education and training sectors, as well as other relevant sectors, such as employment, social policy, youth policy and culture, along with closer collaboration with all the stakeholders concerned, such as the social partners and businesses, with a view to keeping curricula in tune with labour market needs;

66.  Reiterates the Member States’ commitment to investing in higher education, and calls in the light of this for a gradual improvement in education and training standards across the European education systems; calls on the Member States to recognise education as an essential investment, to commit to investing at least 2 % of their GDP in the sector, and to safeguard it from spending cuts; calls on the Commission to strengthen further the role of education in the Europa 2020 strategy by associating the overall objectives of the Education and Training 2020 (ET 2020) strategic framework with the review of Europe 2020;

67.  Stresses that lifelong investment in human capital and skills, and – in particular – in upskilling the existing workforce and unskilled workers, is essential in order to combat long-term unemployment and provide wider access to quality jobs; calls on the EU to set clear goals on lifelong learning methods for missing skills, and to expand training and education in communication, languages and digital skills for older workers and, in particular, for low-skilled workers over the age of 30 and early school leavers

68.  Stresses the need for adequate financing and take-up, by the Member States, regional and local authorities and individual employers, of quality traineeship and apprenticeship schemes, as well as of school-based learning; recalls that these programmes should comply with minimum standards of social protection;

69.  Believes that close and systematic partnerships at local, regional and national level between public authorities, and employers’ and employees’ representatives, including public and private employment services, and educational and training institutions, are needed in order to develop long term-strategies for the national labour markets concerned and to find the best ways of tackling the problem of skills mismatches in all its dimensions, and calls on the Member States to promote such cooperation;

70.  Believes that the Youth Guarantee is a first step towards a rights-based approach to young people’s needs with regard to employment; recalls the obligation of employers to participate in the process of providing young people with accessible vocational training programmes and quality internships; stresses that the qualitative aspect of decent work for young people must not be compromised, and that the core labour and other standards related to the quality of work, such as working time, the minimum wage, social security, and occupational health and safety, must be central considerations in the efforts that are made;

Fostering labour mobility

71.  Recalls that there are currently two million unfilled vacancies in the EU; emphasises the need for labour mobility in the Union in order to fill this gap, and reiterates the importance of ERASMUS+ and EURES in this respect;

72.  Recalls the importance of facilitating the mobility of border workers by providing more information on the existence of EURES cross-border partnerships, which are designed to encourage and remove obstacles to mobility for cross-border workers by supplying them with information and advice on job opportunities and living and working conditions on either side of the border; in that respect, EURES-T is an important tool for better controlling potential sources of new jobs and moving towards a more integrated EU labour market;

73.  Recalls the mobility of skilled workers from third countries as one of the responses to demographic challenges, labour market shortages and mismatches, as well as to the need to minimise the effects of brain-drain;

74.  Notes that the EU is built on the principle of free movement of workers; calls for the study and use of foreign languages to be encouraged with a view to increasing mobility; points to the importance of making language learning, especially where European languages are concerned, an element of lifelong learning to be encouraged as a means of facilitating worker mobility and widening the range of job prospects;

Exchange and validation of best practices in the EU

75.  Stresses the need to exchange and validate best practices between Member States, and regional and local authorities, as well as to compare and measure their effectiveness, in particular in relation to dual and vocational education and apprenticeship and traineeship systems and curricula, learning outcomes of non-formal and informal learning, and lifelong learning strategies, while acknowledging the specificities of each labour market and education system; points to the Euro Apprenticeship platform as one of the key tools for developing European partnerships and exchanging best practices regarding apprenticeships;

76.  Highlights the important role of non-formal and informal learning, volunteering and lifelong learning in developing skills and qualifications, particularly transversal skills such as entrepreneurial skills, ICT, and personal and language competences that are widely applicable; calls on the EU to improve access to adult learning and second-chance education; calls for the validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning by employers and education providers;

77.  Points to the importance of revitalising the Bologna Process by taking the opportunity offered by the May 2015 Yerevan Ministerial Conference to embark on new and more advanced forms of cooperation, to be implemented without delay;

78.  Believes that the Commission should ensure that the Erasmus+ programme – with all its different actions, including the sport component of the programme – is properly implemented; considers it important to simplify the access arrangements so that the programme can reach as many individuals and organisations as possible;

Nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit among citizens: SMEs and micro-enterprises

79.  Believes there is a need to improve leadership, financial management and fostering of entrepreneurial education from an early age, and for supportive, extensive and quality preschool systems for disadvantaged families, with a view to realising young people’s potential so that they are equipped to become not only employees, but employers, and enabled to start new businesses and take advantage of new markets;

80.  Welcomes schemes such as Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs aimed at helping new entrepreneurs to acquire the relevant skills for managing a business, and believes that such programmes should be further promoted in order to help more young entrepreneurs become established and succeed; believes that special support measures should be introduced for young entrepreneurs to facilitate their access to information, as well as finance and funding, including one-stop-shop services offering information and support and targeting young people in existing entrepreneurial support bodies;

81.  Believes that non-formal education, particularly as developed in youth organisations, fosters creativity, a sense of initiative and self-responsibility, and can increase young people’s chances on the labour market;

82.  Stresses the need to include elements of entrepreneurial training at all levels of education and training, since instilling the entrepreneurial spirit among the young at an early stage is an effective way of combating unemployment, especially youth unemployment; urges, in this regard, active dialogue and cooperation between the academic and business communities aimed at developing educational programmes that equip young people with the requisite skills and competences;

83.  Calls for a forward-looking and output-oriented European Skills Strategy to guide national skills strategies, and to integrate them in the National Jobs Plans while providing a comprehensive framework for the sectorial action plans proposed in the Employment Package;

84.  Underlines the need for support and incentive measures for start-ups, SMEs, micro-enterprises and social economy actors in order to facilitate their establishment and operation, as well as the necessity to embed and act upon the principle of better regulation and to facilitate the hiring of a qualified labour force and training of employees; to this end, stresses that the tax burden should be shifted away from labour to other sources of taxation that are less detrimental to employment and growth, while protecting adequate social protection;

85.  Calls on Member States to reduce the tax burden on labour;

86.  Recalls that almost 99 % of European companies are SMEs, which are an essential driving force behind the creation of a competitive labour market in the EU; this being the case, stresses the importance of basing EU legislation on the ‘Think Small First’ principle in order to remove the bureaucratic obstacles with which SMEs are confronted and to enable them to achieve their full job-creation potential;

87.  Believes that entrepreneurs should invest in training and apprenticeships for employees and that incentives should be introduced and further developed where appropriate for this purpose, as this will enable them to expand and create new job places; believes that the development of employer networks can help SMEs and micro-enterprises to access the training provision and support they need;

Innovation and digitalisation: new skills and jobs

88.  Stresses the importance of innovation and digitisation for growth, productivity and a fairer, more sustainable and inclusive society, and, in this connection, the need to provide knowledge, creativity and skills, as well as motivation and determination on the part of employees and prospective employees and employers, with a view to creating innovative, creative and digital products and services; stresses the need to close the “digital divide” and digital skills as part of lifelong learning and to integrate new media and new technologies into curricula; stresses, further, the need to develop innovative ways of learning and to extend the availability of online and distance learning through open educational resources (OER) that facilitate equal access to education and training for everyone;

89.  Stresses the need to identify a broad range of emerging industries and key growth sectors in which Member States should focus on developing their skills base;

90.  Highlights the job creation potential offered by completing the digital single market, building the energy union, creating jobs through investing in research and development and innovation, promoting social entrepreneurship and the social economy, upskilling workers in the health and social care sector, and fostering improved transport networks;

91.  Highlights the recent trend of companies returning production and services to the EU and the opportunities this brings for job creation, particularly for young people; believes that the economies of the EU have a unique opportunity to accelerate this trend of reshoring jobs by ensuring that the skills of our workforce match the needs of businesses;

92.  Underlines the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) studies and highlights the role they have in enabling Europe to play an important part on the global stage with regard to advancing technology developments;

93.  Supports the Commission´s initiative in cooperation with the Trio Presidency to promote an entrepreneurial mindset in Europe and develop transferable skills for life;

94.  Highlights the fact that the EU faces a shortage of skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), while it has an over-supply of social science graduates; is of the opinion that supplementary initiatives at European and national level are necessary to respond to the bottlenecks in STEM-related jobs and studies; recommends that the Commission and the Member States take measures to enhance the attractiveness and value of STEM subjects and to encourage young people, including women, to take up STEM studies;

95.  Points out that even in the 21st century there is still a place for traditional know-how that creates stable jobs that cannot be outsourced and underpins a number of fields in which Europe excels; calls for support that allows these traditional skills to be preserved and passed on to future generations through training, combining them, whenever possible, with new kinds of know-how, including digital skills, in order to maximise their potential;

Measures regarding younger and older workers and workers with disabilities

96.  Stresses the need for, and importance of, special measures and support for employers, in particular SMEs, to help them enhance quality and sustainable employment, ensure work-based training and offer career-development opportunities for groups that are disadvantaged on the labour market, such as young people, elderly workers, women, migrants, disabled people and the long-term unemployed; recognises and supports the role of both public and private employment services in promoting competitive labour markets; recalls the importance of social and economic responsibility on the part of employers and educational institutions vis-à-vis all employees and society; believes that such social responsibility should also be required of institutions responsible for education and training;

97.  Recognises the challenges young people face when entering the labour market, recalls the importance of their obtaining their first work experience during their studies so as to gain employability skills and make the transition from school to work more efficiently and effectively; points to the potential underlying youth entrepreneurship, and therefore appeals to the responsibility of employers and Member States to provide young people with the chance to gain such experience and to support young people in getting the right skills; emphasises, further, the importance of cooperation between schools and employers in this respect, and calls on the EU institutions and Member States to become more business-friendly and to support young people in transforming their ideas into successful business plans;

Policy proposals and Recommendations

98.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States, and regional and local authorities to invest in innovative and promising new economic sectors in order to encourage investment in the EU with a view to boosting growth and new, quality, sustainable employment, leading towards a fairer, sustainable and inclusive society; further emphasises the importance of the Member States’ implementing economic and financial measures and carrying out labour market reforms that are based on clear, data-based and measurable indicators whose effectiveness can be proved;

99.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that, in addition to promoting the creation of quality jobs, the labour market reforms are designed to reduce segmentation, bring vulnerable groups into the labour market, promote gender equality, reduce in-work poverty and provide adequate social protection for all workers, including the self-employed;

100.  Calls on the Member States to invest in early childhood education, and in early teaching of foreign languages and of information and communication technologies in primary schools;

101.  Calls on the Member States to take full account of the importance of automatisation as a trend that may erode the quantitative importance of many jobs, and to direct their training programmes for the unemployed into learning skills that are useful in non-routine jobs;

102.  Calls on the Member States and regional and local authorities to learn about best practices and to take the step from these to policy actions that increase employment rates and reduce poverty and inequality, and undertake more ambitious reforms which draw on those practices; calls further on the Member States to compare and measure the effectiveness of such practices, to ensure the right balance between adaptability and security for workers and businesses, and to take into consideration the specificities of labour markets and education systems in the Member States;

103.   Calls on cities and regions to focus on quality education and training, fighting early school leaving and combating youth unemployment, because young people urgently need new prospects and the utmost should be done to support them;

104.  Calls on Member States to develop collective approaches such as employers networks in order to help break through the barriers that prevent employers from pursuing more ambitious plans for workforce development;

105.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to foster and support social enterprises that take into account their responsibility towards the environment, consumers and employees;

106.  Calls on the Member States to introduce a minimum wage with a view to addressing pay inequalities using a base level for each Member State to ensure a decent income via legal means or by way of an agreement, in line with national practice;

107.  Calls on the Member States to include leadership, management, entrepreneurial and financial education, business start-up advice and communication technologies in their education programmes, including lifelong learning strategies, and to prioritise the further development of vocational training and education (VET) programmes, including enhancing European craftsmanship, while taking into consideration the differences between Member States as regards labour market and education systems, avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach;

108.  Petitions the Commission to develop a European platform for recognition and validation of skills common to specific activities and professions, which incorporates the recognition of skills acquired through volunteer work;

109.  Calls on the Member States to implement the 2012 Council Recommendation on the validation of non-formal and informal learning as a way to recognise competences acquired through non-formal education, particularly in the volunteer and youth sector, and to support the implementation of lifelong learning policies;

110.  Calls on the Member States to support the close and systematic involvement of labour market stakeholders, including employers’ and employees’ organisations, training institutions, and public and private employment services at local, regional and national level, including by facilitating communication and information sharing between them, in order to foster closer links between education and training and the workplace, to better match supply and demand and to anticipate and plan for future skills needs and qualifications in the labour market;

111.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States and regional and local authorities to provide financial and economic incentives that support participation in continuous education and training in order to guarantee a skilled future workforce; recommends that such incentives be based on measurable and data-based indicators whose effectiveness can be proved;

112.  Calls on the Member States to provide appropriate training and ensure the ongoing professional development of teachers and education leaders in order to help them use the most appropriate teaching methods and enable the development of 21st‑century skills and competencies among Europe’s young people; stresses, further, the importance of providing teachers with experience-based know-how that combines practice with theory, especially with regard to new technologies and digitisation, so that they can convey this knowledge to students;

113.  Calls on the Member States and the EU to take swift concrete steps to implement policies and current legislation on mutual recognition of qualifications and academic titles across the EU, as a means of fostering fair intra-EU labour mobility and addressing the problem of unfilled vacancies;

114.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to provide forecasts regarding changing labour markets, particularly in relation to challenges arising from globalisation, as well as forecasts on jobs and skills per Member State and broadly across the sectors;

o   o

115.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0038.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0394.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0110.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2014)0010.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0037.
(6) OJ C 398, 22.12.2012, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 394, 30.12.2006, p. 10.
(8) According to the Commission’s Employment and Social Situation: Quarterly Review of March 2015.
(9) European Commission (2013), Employment and Social Developments in Europe.
(10) According to the Commission’s Employment and Social Situation: Quarterly Review of 13 April 2015.

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