Mercado Interior, Industria, Emprendimiento y Pymes

Skills for industry

Skills for industry

Disruptive technological change and the green transition are changing the face of industry on a global scale. The Covid-19 crisis has exacerbated these trends. With this in mind, we’re working to increase the EU talent, helping people acquire new technology-based skills so European industry can be competitive.

Skills are at the heart of our industrial policy, the recovery plan for Europe and support for youth employment. Innovation and competitiveness come from the creativity and the skills of individuals. There is a global competition for talent and our workforce needs to acquire new skills and continuously improve them to boost employability, take new jobs and fuel economic growth. 

While the reconfiguration of global supply chains and investment in new technologies offer a great opportunity to re-shore manufacturing and strengthen industry 4.0 in Europe. However, increasing skills shortages, gaps and mismatches related to the green and digital transition will lead to bottlenecks. The workforce needs sector specialised skills as well as transversal skills, combining domain-specific knowledge with problem-solving and interpersonal skills such as communication, creativity, readiness to learn or critical thinking, among others. Enterprises have difficulties in finding employees with these skills and report that this is delaying their investments. Europe needs foresight and skills intelligence to anticipate and manage change, increase investment in training, nurture new types of work and strengthen social cohesion.

What the European Commission is doing

With the industrial strategy for Europe and the SME strategy, adopted in March 2020, we acknowledge the importance of skills for the twin green and digital transitions. Training, upskilling and reskilling have to be a major part of our economy. Between 2015 and 2025 opportunities will grow for highly-skilled people (+21%), stagnate for medium-skill levels and decline for the low skilled (-17%). Depending on the country and occupation, 25-45% of jobs will be subject to automation. This is why investment in upskilling and reskilling is indispensable. The European skills agenda adopted in July 2020 is a five-year plan to help individuals and businesses develop more and better skills. It sets quantitative objectives to be achieved by 2025 and aims to equip to upskill and reskill the workforce. 

Implementing this ambitious agenda requires collective action from the EU, EU countries, industry, social partners and all relevant stakeholders through a pact for skills to unlock public and private investment in the workforce. In complement to investments from enterprises and EU countries, the EU prioritises funding in people and our recovery plan will address up- and reskilling. In cooperation with the EIB, the Commission will also explore innovative financial mechanisms to promote investments in skills.

The Pact for Skills

To increase investment in skills, Commissioners Breton and Schmit initiated a series of roundtables with representatives of industrial ecosystems, social partners, education and training providers, and regional and national authorities. 

On 10 November 2020, the Commission launched the pact for skills in partnership with the German Presidency, announcing the first wave of skills partnerships in the key industrial ecosystems of 

  • automotive
  • microelectronics
  • aerospace and defence industries

These partnerships build on the results of the blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills. 

In 2022, the Commission will offer a single EU-level entry point for information and guidance on EU funding and access to skills intelligence, knowledge, networking, and resource hubs. 

The recovery plan for Europe emphasises up- and reskilling as a key priority alongside funding under REACT-EU, the European Social Fund+ and other relevant multiannual financial framework (2021-2027) programmes.

See more information about the Pact for Skills.

The Blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills

The blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills is a strategic approach, mobilising stakeholders to upskill and reskill the workforce in a particular sector or domain. They are elaborating a pan-European skills sectoral strategy, identifying skills needs, priorities and milestones for action and develop solutions. 

Each year the blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills targeted specific domains, with the first pilot starting in 2018.

In 2021, the blueprint will focus on supply and transport industries, work integration in social enterprises, cybersecurity, software services, blockchain, and cultural heritage.

Earlier editions of the blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills

Please note that the links below lead to non-EU institution websites.
The Commission’s support does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflects the views only of the authors who are responsible for the information.




See more information about the Blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills.

Digital and green skills

We support green skill acquisition. We do so in part by 

  • defining a taxonomy of skills for the green transition
  • developing a European competence framework on education for climate change and sustainable development 
  • supporting the development of a core green skills set for the labour market to guide training across the economy

We also support digital skills. The digital skills and jobs coalition, launched in 2016, brings together EU countries, companies, social partners, non-profit organisations and education providers, to tackle the lack of digital skills in Europe. We invite EU countries to develop national digital skills strategies and create national coalitions while encouraging stakeholders to make pledges. These include free training for unemployed people and disadvantaged people, coding classes for children, courses for SMEs and digital volunteers, cross-border digital traineeships and more. 

Related links

Other organisations, initiatives and projects supporting digital skills

Please note that the links below lead to non-EU institution websites.
The Commission’s support does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflects the views only of the authors who are responsible for the information.

The European e-competence framework for IT professionals:  a European standard 

Entrepreneurial and leadership skills

We support entrepreneurial and transversal soft skills, as people who combine high-tech expertise, business acumen and leadership skills are in high demand. These skills are key for leaders of businesses or innovative project teams to exploit new technologies so that enterprises can develop competitive advantages.

The report on leadership skills in Europe estimates that over 805,000 digital leaders will be needed in 2025. Over 60% can be found in business units outside IT departments. 

New curricula need to stimulate multidisciplinary orientation and entrepreneurial agility. On-the-job training needs to maximise the exposure of the workforce to relevant job experiences. Existing good practices that build on these principles should be adopted on a broader scale.

Skills for Industry reports

President-elect Ursula von der Leyen stated: “The best investment in our future is the investment in our people. Skills and education drive Europe’s competitiveness and innovation. But Europe is not yet fully ready. I will ensure that we use all the tools and funds at our disposal to redress this balance”.

The ‘Skills for Industry’ initiative adds to the efforts of EU countries and contributes to a shared long-term strategy on skills for industry in Europe.