Gist of opinion
European sectoral councils (ESCs) involving various stakeholders should provide crucial support in the process of anticipating and managing sectoral changes, in particular in terms of employment and skills needs, in order to adapt skills to supply and demand. ESCs could help meet the goals of the "New skills for new jobs" initiative.
The Committee supports the concept of a sectoral council based on the model proposed in European social dialogue. Sectoral councils could benefit substantially from contact (according to principle of cooperation) with the structures of European social dialogue (ESD) and their political activities.
The activities of the European sectoral dialogue committees (ESDC) could serve as an operational model for the sectoral councils. However, ESCs can have a broader scope, in terms of the number of stakeholders they comprise, and a more independent role than ESDCs, focusing more on skills and the labour market than social dialogue. Those sectors without ESD structures should also have the opportunity to set up ESCs. A new ESC could then serve as a basis for the creation of a new ESDC.
Future ESCs should conduct close and regular cooperation with their national counterparts. On the basis of the open method of coordination, EU councils should support the establishment of national councils, where they do not exist, by providing advice and examples of best practice.
With a view to strengthening the impact of ESCs on sectoral changes, they should give consideration to continuing education at all levels. Using the open method of coordination as a basis, it is important to move towards integration of the continuing training policy.
Professional associations and organisations providing vocational education and training should participate in ESCs. Furthermore, ESCs should cooperate with European universities and higher education establishments, which, in turn, should create a link between industry and academic research relating to training.
Structural and information-based support for the work of sectoral councils by Cedefop and Eurofound should be taken into account in the designation of the tasks of these institutions.
Sectoral councils, both at European and national level, should cooperate and even create links with employment and skills observatories and their national and European networks.
The Commission should consider the creation of a limited number of councils at first, not setting them up immediately for some 20 sectors. Special consideration should be given to sectors with strong knowledge-based elements, preferably in connection with aspects such as "the green economy".