Provision and development of skills, including digital skills, in the context of new forms of work: new policies and changing roles and responsibilities (exploratory opinion requested by the Estonian Presidency) - Related Opinions
This opinion calls on the EU to develop a strategy to enhance continuous, learner-centred learning, with digitalisation and the deployment of trustworthy AI at its heart, and stresses the essential role of both public education and non-formal education to enhance inclusiveness and active citizenship. Such a strategy requires an increased allocation of EU funds and more cooperation between policymakers, education providers, social partners and other civil society organisations.
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.
Digitalisation offers a wealth of new possibilities allowing people to make choices for a better life in an unprecedented way. On the other hand, the more digitalisation dominates our life, the more we can also be manipulated. The EESC calls for transparent rules to be developed, adapted and applied to these rapidly evolving technologies. Good persuasive technology should involve training, not manipulation, and comply with the principle of people's free choice, to guarantee human autonomy.
The proposals discussed in this opinion form the second package of proposals launched for the development of a European Education Area – the proposal on the automatic mutual recognition of diplomas, on early childhood education and care and on the teaching and learning of languages. The EESC welcomes the setting up of a European Education Area, given its contribution towards the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights and in promoting amongst others Europe's social, economic and demographic development. It encourages however to incorporate this initiative within a long-term vision for education, training and lifelong learning, based on effective social dialogue.
The Internet of Things (IoT), thanks to its interconnectivity of persons and objects, offers a vast range of opportunities for individuals and businesses. These opportunities must be backed by a series of safeguards and controls so as to ensure introduction of the IoT is problem-free. With this opinion the EESC aims to promote awareness-raising and digital capacity-building initiatives and calls inter alia on the European institutions and EU Member States to ensure that security and privacy are protection by building appropriate regulatory frameworks that contain strict monitoring and control provisions.
The digitalised world of work will necessitate proper transition management – not only from the side of enterprises, but also from that of human capital.
On the one hand, enterprises have to identify and assess the new needs and draw up and implement plans for controlling the risks and reducing the costs of the transition; employees, on the other hand, should be provided with appropriate guidance and training, so that they can adapt to the new reality and be able to seize the opportunities offered and thrive.
Another aspect to be taken into consideration in the digitalised world of work is the use of data. Thanks to digital technologies and data, the evolution of trends is better understood and targeted support can be proposed to individuals; yet the use of these digital data should be regulated.
The opinion will build on the work already carried out by the Committee on the future of work.
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.
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.