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New skills agenda- 10 actions in education equipping Europe for the future

The European Commission has adopted a new Skills Agenda for Europe, as a further policy support measure for boosting Europe’s employability, competitiveness and growth, in line with the Europe 2020 strategy. The skills landscape in Europe continues to display mismatches between skills and labour market demands, high numbers of people with low literacy and numeracy skills, even more without adequate digital skills and a job market with seemingly ever increasing demands. To support the development of skills, especially transversal skills, and help address the skills mismatch as well as anticipate the needs of the labour market, the European Commission put forward the action plan consisting of 10 points which are to provide a framework for dealing with these issues at different levels and across education systems in the EU.

The 10 proposed action points are as follows:
  1. A Skills Guarantee - addressing minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills and progress towards an upper secondary qualification.
  2. A review of the European Qualifications Framework for its better understanding and use
  3. The "Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition" – focusing on the cooperation between education and employment and policy makers on creating a pool of talents and on equipping the labour force with adequate digital skills
  4. The ‘Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills’ to improve skills intelligence and address skills shortages in specific economic sectors
  5. A "Skills Profile Tool for Third Country Nationals" to support profiling of skills and qualifications of asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants
  6. A revision of the Europass Framework – for more user-friendliness of tools and a better overview of skills and qualifications
  7. Enhancing work-based learning opportunities for VET learners and promoting VET as a first choice among learners
  8. A review of the Recommendation on Key Competences towards more and better acquisition of skills required in today’s labour market, especially promoting entrepreneurial and innovation-oriented mind-sets and skills
  9. An initiative on graduate tracking to improve information on graduates’ experiences in the labour market
  10. A proposal to further analyse and exchange best practices on effective ways to address brain drain.

The pressing challenges, as stated, are not only low levels of required skills but equally their insufficient transparency and visibility, hence the proposed revisions of existing frameworks for the assessment and presentation of skills and qualifications. The action plan proposal shows that the need for more systematic data collection has been taken up as well. In addition, two of the 10 proposed actions in the Skills Agenda for Europe stem from the results of the recent public consultation on the EU’s modernisation agenda for higher education, notably points 8 and 9, respectively those pertaining to the key competences and graduate tracking. 

As announced in the press release, the first 4 action points of the Agenda were launched on 10 June while the remaining six will be launched in the course of 2016 and 2017. European Commission – press release