The Commission plans further support for skills development


The Action Plan to address skills shortages in the labour market is closely linked to education initiatives.

This week, the European Commission published an Action Plan to help address the skills shortages in the labour market. The plan is part of a long-term European strategy to boost the EU's competitiveness and strengthen its economic and social resilience. The social partners, who represent the interests of the world of work and are involved in addressing its challenges, have cooperated with the ED closely to develop it.

The Action Plan has five main areas and an important part of it are activities and initiatives to promote skills development, upskiling and reskiling, which are very closely linked to education at all levels.   

Supporting the activation of underrepresented people in the labour market

Commission's objective in this area is to support unemployed young people, for example through the Youth Guarantee, which should ensure that every young person under 30 is offered a job, further training, apprenticeship or traineeship within 4 months of leaving education or losing their job. Another initiative, ALMA, helps disadvantaged young people to integrate into society. Last but not least, the Commission also wants to support young families and women to return to the labour market by providing quality pre-school education and care.  

Providing support for skills development, training and education

Building an inclusive and high quality European Education Area continues to support the acquisition of basic and advanced skills at all levels of education. For example, by 2027, the Commission plans to support 100 Erasmus+ Centres of Vocational Excellence, with the main objective of promoting excellence in VET, enhancing the quality of education, introducing innovative practices and fostering cooperation between secondary vocational education and the wider socio-economic environment, including the labour market and innovation actors. In addition, the Commission wants to support projects of the Alliances for Innovation or partnerships under the Pact for Skills. An updated VET declaration is planned for 2025, building on the Copenhagen Declaration.  

Improving working conditions in certain sectors

This area includes active support for traineeships, which students take part in during their studies to gain practical experience directly in companies and the field they are studying. Alongside the Action Plan, the Commission has published a proposal to revise the 2014 Council Recommendation on the Quality Framework for Traineeships to ensure quality traineeships and inclusive and equal access for all and a proposal for a Directive to improve the working conditions of trainees.  This thematic area also includes a proposal for a Council Recommendation on attractive and sustainable careers in higher education, to be published by the end of March, which will focus on promoting attractive working conditions in higher education.

Improving fair intra-EU mobility for workers and learners 

The mobility of students and people in the labour market within the EU is another important aspect that can support skills development and help address labour shortages in specific sectors. To further develop and increase mobility, there is a need to continue to remove barriers and focus on issues such as mutual recognition of qualifications and skills, quality assurance, including non-formal and informal learning, and increasing mutual trust. In this context, last November the Commission presented a proposal for a Council Recommendation on a framework for learning mobility - Europe on the move, which aims to make learning mobility accessible to all. Finally, the planned publication of the results of pilot projects to test the Label for European Joint Degree in higher education programmes is also expected to foster deeper cooperation between universities and increase the number of students going abroad to study.  

Attracting talent from outside the EU

Attracting talent from outside the EU is another way to address skills shortages in the labour market. Here too, the Commission is building on the package of initiatives adopted in November 2023. One of the proposed steps is the creation of an "EU Talent Pool" platform to connect EU employers and jobseekers in third countries, or proposals for measures to facilitate the recognition of third-country qualifications.  

The role of Member States and social partners 

In the Action Plan, the Commission calls on Member States to support and implement these recommendations, to promote the alignment of education with labour market needs, and to continue digitalisation and the advantages it offers. The social partners plan to contribute by improving working conditions and by promoting traineeships and cooperation between schools and labour market organisations. Last but not least, it is important that all the parties continue to cooperate, share information and experience and build mutual trust. The Commission will monitor progress in all of the above areas in the framework of the European semester and intends to continue regular meetings with Member States, social partners and all relevant stakeholders.  

For more information see the EC press release and the Action plan itself.