This major event, entitled ‘Mind the gaps‘, focused on skills and learning in a changing world of work and attracted more than 130 participants while over 200 more followed it online – they included researchers and experts, policymakers and stakeholders.
One of the conference’s highlights was the speech by European Commission Vice President for Promoting our European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas, who emphasised that skills mismatches and shortages were becoming endemic in the EU. This – he added – posed a serious challenge, and Europe was now urgently required not just to ‘mind the gaps’ in our job markets, but also to ‘fill the gaps’.
‘We see that digital skills needs are growing fastest in low-skilled jobs. The green transition means additional employment, not just for university graduates but at all skills levels. Squaring the combination of the twin transitions and population ageing means that we need to do more with less people.’
An optimal way to do just that, Cedefop Deputy Director Mara Brugia pointed out, was through vocational education and training (VET):
‘We see VET as capturing many ways of learning that supports people of any age and at different stages of learning, work, and life. It helps people acquire the skills they need to succeed in the labour market and in society, helps businesses thrive and strengthens the skills DNA of communities.’
Oliver Röpke, President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), stressed the importance of social dialogue in well-functioning skills ecosystems.
‘Social dialogue – he said – is what it takes to shape well-functioning continuing VET (CVET) and adult learning systems, to expand their reach and to give more people opportunities to benefit from them.’
The conference included four panel discussions that brought together the views on skills-related needs and policies of the EU, national governments, employee and employers organisations. These discussions covered:
- Skills gaps in the context of a just and inclusive twin transition, between what we aspire and what we manage to implement, and how to fill those gaps.
- The attractiveness of VET for young people preparing for a labour market that undergoes continuous transformations, where jobs that exist now may become obsolete or suffer radical changes in the future
- The gap between training policies – training provision and needs – how to deliver skills and competences that facilitate labour market transitions, enhance learning and career development of individuals
- What lies ahead, beyond the European Year of Skills, and the need to move to a decade focusing on skills through outside-the-box thinking and a shift from an academic to a vocational drift
Watch the whole conference