Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

Skills and qualifications

The way we work, learn, take part in society and lead our everyday lives is changing with technological developments, global and demographic challenges. The right skills help individuals to adjust to these changes and ensure their well-being while contributing to society, productivity and economic growth.

Today people need to be equipped with a variety of skills ranging from basic skills, such as literacy, numeracy and digital, to vocational or technical skills as well as entrepreneurial skills and transversal skills, such as foreign languages or personal development and learning to learn.

Europe today faces a number of challenges:

  • Green and digital transitions are reshaping the way we live, work and interact and call for a shift in skill sets to reap their full potential.
  • Demographic change requires Europe to draw on all of its talents and diversity. At the same time, it will also gener­ates new job opportunities in the silver and care economies.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has made telework and distance learning a reality for millions of people in the EU, and revealed the limitations of our digital preparedness. The pandemic has also negatively impacted job opportunities for many.
  • Too many people cannot find a job because they do not have the right skills or they are working in jobs that do not match their talents.
  • At the same time, 40% of employers cannot find people with the right skills to fill their vacancies; and too few people have the skill sets and support to see setting up their own business as a realistic route.
  • An unacceptably high proportion of Europeans – one in five – struggle with reading and writing, and even more have poor numeracy and digital skills.
  • While everyone should have the chance to upgrade their skills on a regular basis – only 4 in 10 adults take part in learning.

Education and training in Europe is the competence of Member States. National and regional labour markets and education systems are faced with their own specific challenges but Member States share similar problems and opportunities.

That is why European initiatives for skills aim to mobilise all European stakeholders along the following lines of action:

The European Skills Agenda of 1 July 2020 sets out a five year action plan with 12 actions to help equip people in Europe with better skills.

Country specific recommendations related to skills development are addressed to a high number of Member States each year to guide their national policy making and EU funding helps to put policy designs into practice:

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