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ERA attends Making Skills Count conference

ERA recently attended the Making Skills Count Conference organised by DG EMPL in Brussels, gathering stakeholders, policymakers and experts for stimulating discussions and initiatives on skills-related challenges. The conference is part of the European Year of Skills 2023, with the aim of promoting re-skilling and upskilling, matching skills with digitalisation and green transition, and reconciling people’s aspirations with the needs of the market.

To meet these objectives, the European Commission is keen to point out initiatives across Europe and enhance EU funding possibilities leading to this transition. Many events and awareness-raising campaigns have been organised and the Making Skills Count Conference is one of them. 

During the conference, several experts, stakeholders and policymakers took part to the discussions and addressed challenges or solutions. Through the workshops, many innovative solutions from the EU were presented as examples of work on skills.

On the first day, there were three workshops bringing together four speakers each to address different topics on skills:

  • Skills-first – what is it, what added value and which way forward?: the first workshop focussed on skills when it comes on recruitment. It brought attention on the need for policy to focus on recruitment communication, for example through a Skills Taxonomy made for a business or an industry so they can be properly recognised. As such, the challenge also is on the co-operation between the industries and education to better address the needs of the market on training.
  • Skills for the green and digital transition and for net-zero industry: this second workshop targeted the need for identified skills to achieve climate targets and green transition. The urge to adapt our skills according to the current challenges has been highlighted in the Green Deal Industrial Plan and the net-zero package measures. The need for more digital and green skills is also recognised by industries and businesses.
  • Skills make business sense: how upskilling enhances value and productivity in companies: the last workshop of the first day brought the focus on investment in skills, often too invisible and not valued. Individuals, companies and public authorities could work on making investment in skills more productive and visible. The skills gap crisis is estimated at 11.3 million dollars and only 1 business out of 5 invests in training. The problem needs to be tackled from a cultural point of view in which education, universities or workplace training would be considered investments rather than expenses as it represents a loss of earnings today.

On the second day, there were 2 parallel workshop sessions and ERA attended:

  • The first one on Unlocking Skills and recognising qualifications in a cross-border context: In the context of the green and digital transitions, Europe needs more up- and reskilling and a better recognition of skills, especially in our international context and for workers coming from third countries. The four speakers presented their initiatives or programmes aiming to improve recognition of foreign skills and adult-learnt skills. These initiatives coming from across Europe benefit companies, candidates and more generally, society.  
  • The second one on Funding for Skills: In order to bring a transition in reskilling, investment in skills by EU funds are needed. There already are existing opportunities to focus on good practices and explore challenges that have access to fundings, but they are often poorly known. The procedures, mostly complex, represent an obstacle for businesses, especially the smallest ones. Moreover, the time is also a challenge for companies as they don’t always see the benefits of training.

In summary, the conference addressed the main challenges of the European Union for skills as they are necessary to bring a change in our market and meet climate targets. Many initiatives are taking place all around Europe and to better recognize skills and allow adult or students to train their-self while finding their path.