Vocational training: the effectiveness of systems to anticipate and match skills and labour market needs and the role of social partners and different stakeholders - Related Opinions
Skills mismatches are one of the biggest challenges that currently jeopardises European growth and sustainable job creation. Future prospects are even more challenging. With the rapid, even revolutionary change of technologies, business models as well as customer expectations, the nature of work is often changing in an unprecedented and almost unpredictable manner. This has brought to light the growing gap between the needs of the businesses and the qualifications, skills and competences of the human resources. Current developments also underline the growing importance of soft and transversal as well as other skills often gained through informal learning. This challenges the current education systems to adapt and also raises issues linked to recognition and validation of the informal education and training.
In its opinion, the EESC acknowledges the positive role that apprenticeships can play in improving employability and providing for skills that are relevant to the labour market, for both young persons and adults. The Committee appreciates the fact that Member States are invited to promote the active involvement of social partners regarding apprenticeship schemes. Furthermore, the Committee also believes that apprentices themselves and other relevant stakeholders – such as youth and parent organisations and students' unions should also be actively involved. Also, the EESC considers that apprentices should be able to influence their learning experience, to create more productive learning experiences. The EESC also calls for initiatives that explore the potential of transnational mobility of apprentices in the EU.
The introduction of digitalisation in business is having a momentous impact on the production systems, labour conditions and organisational models of the labour market and the society in general. Quality basic education, high-standard and effective training, lifelong learning, up- and re-skilling for all will be the necessary tools for grasping the job opportunities of the future and fostering enterprise competitiveness. In this context, it is important to keep a human-centred approach and to find ways to accompany vulnerable people who will not be able to respond to the growing demands of the new technological era.
Many atypical forms of work are now being developed and the associated social risks should be dealt with by means of coordinated efforts by all stakeholders. Automation and robots are having an increasing impact on work. While they have the potential to stabilise the economy in an ageing society, they are also affecting jobs: it is therefore essential that social dialogue on this point takes place at an early stage. In future, lifelong learning and professional training will be a necessity for everyone, but long-term developments can best be tackled through general education.
The EESC welcomes the New Skills Agenda for Europe. However, it wishes to see more innovative solutions in the fields of education and skills development, as Europe needs a genuine paradigm shift in the goals and functioning of the education sector. The EESC considers that helping individuals to acquire a minimum set of skills is not enough, and that it is crucial to ensure that a Skills Guarantee becomes a guaranteed pathway that enables people to advance and reach the highest achievable level of skills. The Committee calls for more focus on social and gender perspectives, non-formal and informal learning and entrepreneurship as a life skill. It also regrets the lack of new financing to back up the Agenda and encourages more dialogue with organised civil society.