Updated Skills Agenda for Europe

In “Promoting our European Way of Life”

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The move to a resource-efficient, circular, digitised and low-carbon economy could create more than 1 million jobs by 2030. Artificial intelligence and robotics will create almost 60 million new jobs worldwide in the next 5 years, while a number of jobs may change or disappear. The coronavirus pandemic has amplified the skills trends on the labour market, accelerating both the need and the opportunities for change. In a fast-moving labour market and society, the need for lifelong learning has become a reality.

The European Commission in its 2020 work programme announced its intention to launch a non-legislative initiative on skills under the fifth priority - 'Promoting our European Way of Life'.

With the 1 July 2020 communication on a "European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience", the Commission seeks to ensure that the right to training and lifelong learning, enshrined in the European Pillar of Social rights, becomes a reality all across Europe, from cities to remote and rural areas.

The Agenda sets ambitious quantitative objectives for upskilling (improving existing skills) and reskilling (training in new skills) to be achieved within the next 5 years, namely to increase

  • the participation of adults aged 25-64 in learning over a period of 12 months to 50% (by 32%)
  • the participation of low-qualified adults aged 25-64 in learning over a period of 12 months to 30% (by 67%)
  • the share of unemployed adults 25-64 with a recent learning experience to 20% (by 82%)
  • the share of adults 16-74 having at least basic digital skills to 70% (by 25%).

 The Agenda aims to improve the relevance of skills in the EU in order to strengthen sustainable competitiveness, ensure social fairness and build resilience. It does this through the following 12 actions:

  1. A Pact for Skills
  2. Strengthening skills intelligence
  3. EU support for strategic national upskilling action
  4. Proposal for a Council Recommendation on Vocational Education and Training for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience
  5. Rolling out the European universities initiative and upskilling scientists
  6. Skills to support the green and digital transitions
  7. Increasing STEM graduates and fostering entrepreneurial and transversal skills
  8. Skills for Life
  9. Initiative on Individual Learning Accounts
  10. A European approach to micro-credentials
  11. New Europass Platform
  12. Improving the enabling framework to unlock Member States' and private investment in skills.

The European Parliament in its resolution of 11 February 2021 on European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience expressed support for the Commissions planned actions as set out in the Skills Agenda and the Digital Education Plan 2021-2027 and emphasised the potential opportunities offered by EU funding.

On 16 July 2021, the Commission responded to the text adopted in EP plenary.

The first implemented action of the new Skills Agenda was the new Europass platform, launched on 1 July 2020. It offers guidance in CV-writing, suggests tailored jobs and learning opportunities, provides information on trends in skills, and is available in 29 languages.

To implement the actions and meet the objectives of the Skills Agenda, the EU will need estimated additional public and private investments in skills of around €48 billion annually. The Commission's proposal for NextGenerationEU provides significant resources as part of a major budgetary initiative to tackle the economic and social consequences of the crisis. Throughout the 2021-2027 period, EU instruments such as the European Social Fund Plus with a proposed budget of €86 billion, Erasmus with a proposed budget of €26 billion and InvestEU's Social Investment and Skills window with a proposed budget of €3.6 billion can all be mobilised to help people gain better or new skills. The new Digital Europe Programme with a proposed budget €9.2 billion will invest in advanced digital skills development to master technologies. Moreover, the Recovery and Resilience Facility, powered by €560 billion in grants and loans, provides Member States with ample opportunity to fund upskilling and reskilling initiatives.

Based on three successive Commission proposals, the Council adopted recommendations on

- vocational education and training (VET) for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience (action 4);

- individual learning accounts (action 9);

- micro-credentials (action 10).

Furthermore, on 12 October 2022, the Commission put forward a proposal to make 2023 the European Year of Skills.

The European Parliament adopted a report on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on a European Year of Skills 2023, prepared by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (rapporteur Loucas Fourlas, EPP, Cyprus). The Parliament pushed to give the Year more substance, move its start to 9 May 2023, which is a symbolic date for the Union, and extend the period for the related funding. 

A political agreement with the Council was reached on 7 March 2023 and the Year started on 9 May. 


Further reading

Author: Marketa Pape, Members' Research Service, legislative-train@europarl.europa.eu

As of 20/05/2024.