The Eurocadres blog

Enhanced skills for EU workers


We have had a couple of weeks’ time to reflect on the New Skills Agenda for Europe. The underlying purpose is to ensure basic skills for everyone: literacy, numeracy and digital skills.


The European Commission is worried about social exclusion and skills gaps. We too are worried about skills gaps and skills mismatches. We have to fix brain drain, increase women’s participation, encourage cross-border mobility –  to name a few – for a functioning European labour market.

However, there is also a need to upskill and reskill those that already are high skilled.

The Commission has stated that 50 per cent of jobs will need people with high skills in 2025. Already between 2008–2015 the amount of professionals on the labour market rose from 14 to 19 per cent in the EU. However, there is also a need to upskill and reskill those that already are high skilled. It simply does not make any sense of having enormous gaps for various of reasons because the right people cannot be reached. Higher education institutions should see this a market opportunity.

Yes, there is life-long learning and yes there is adult education. But is that enough? We should have some sort of fast-track paths to add on to your degree if you want to change course. Otherwise it feels like a waste of resources and talent if you need to start from scratch.

Even if the amount of professionals has risen on the European labour market, it does not mean that thousands of new jobs have been created. Mostly, high skilled workers have accepted jobs requiring a lower level of skills and education. In the long run it is not a great solution. It will have an endless domino effect, pushing those in risk of unemployment or social exclusion even further away.

There is need for new knowledge on the labour market. It has been predicted that there will be 825,000 unfilled vacancies of ICT professionals by 2020 for example. Of course everyone cannot or does want to become an ICT professional, but this is an alarming example of the mismatch we have.

I am worried that education loses its value if you will not be able to utilise your knowledge on the labour market. We have created a single market where people should be encouraged to try things across borders and sectors. If we do not put any effort in this, whole generations around Europe will be stuck in uncertainty, poverty and unemployment.

Read Eurocadres reply to the Skills Agenda consultation.


The author

Janina Mackiewicz
Policy Officer of Eurocadres

Follow on twitter @janinamac