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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

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 pool of EU talent, helping people acquire new technology-based skills.

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.