Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

European Skills Agenda

The European Skills Agenda is a five-year plan to help individuals and businesses develop more and better skills and to put them to use, by:

  • strengthening sustainable competitiveness, as set out in the European Green Deal
  • ensuring social fairness, putting into practice the first principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights: access to education, training and lifelong learning for everybody, everywhere in the EU
  • building resilience to react to crises, based on the lessons learnt during the COVID-19 pandemic


The rapid shift towards a climate neutral Europe and digital transformation is changing the way we work, learn, take part in society and lead our everyday lives. Europe can only grasp these opportunities if its people develop the right skills.

The Covid 19 pandemic has also had a profound impact on millions of people in the EU have lost their job or experienced significant income loss. Many will need to acquire new skills and move to new jobs in a different sector of economy. More will need to upskill to keep their job in a new work environment. For young people, entry in the labour market could be very challenging.

The new European Skills Agenda builds upon the ten actions of the Commission’s 2016 Skills Agenda. It also links to the

The full text: Communication on a European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience

The Skills Agenda in detail

The European Skills Agenda includes 12 actions organised around four building blocks: 

  • A call to join forces in a collective action:
    • Action 1: A Pact for Skills
  • Actions to ensure that people have the right skills for jobs:
    • Action 2: Strengthening skills intelligence
    • Action 3: EU support for strategic national upskilling action
    • Action 4: Proposal for a Council Recommendation on vocational education and training (VET)
    • Action 5: Rolling out the European Universities Initiative and upskilling scientists
    • Action 6: Skills to support the twin transitions
    • Action 7: Increasing STEM graduates and fostering entrepreneurial and transversal skills
    • Action 8: Skills for life
  • Tools and initiatives to support people in their lifelong learning pathways:
    • Action 9: Initiative on individual learning accounts
    • Action 10: A European approach to micro-credentials
    • Action 11: New Europass platform
  • A framework to unlock investments in skills:
    • Action 12: Improving the enabling framework to unlock Member States’ and private investments in skills


The European Skills Agenda sets objectives to be achieved by 2025, based on well-established quantitative indicators. 

Indicators Objectives for 2025 Current level (latest year available) Percentage increase
Participation of adults aged 25-64 in learning during the last 12 month (in %) 50% 38% (2016) +32%
Participation of low-qualified adults 25-64 in learning during the last 12 months (in %) 30% 18% (2016) +67%
Share of unemployed adults aged 25-64 with a recent learning experience (in %) 20% 11% (2019) +82%
Share of adults aged 16-74 having at least basic digital skills (in %) 70% 56% (2019) +25%


A massive investment in skills is needed. In addition to money from enterprise and governments, the EU is prioritising investing in people and their skills in our budget. The Recovery Plan for Europe proposed by the Commission in May 2020 will also focus on skills related activities.

EU investment in skills

Programme Investment (in billions of euros)*
European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) 61.5
Erasmus 16.2
InvestEU 4.9
European Globalisation Adjustment Fund 1.1
European Solidarity Corps 0.8
Digital Europe 0.5

*Resources from the Recovery and Resilience Facility specifically for skills investment cannot yet be estimated

To unlock more national and private investment in skills we are exploring how fiscal frameworks can better support investment and we will promote enhanced reporting on human capital by large companies. Together with national statistical offices, the Commission will work on transparent skills reporting in national accounts and statistics.

In cooperation with the European Investment Bank group, the Commission will explore innovative financial mechanisms to promote skills investments.

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