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The European Skills Agenda: where we stand after one year

Last summer the European Commission (EC) presented the European Skills Agenda. The agenda consists of 12 actions aimed at fostering sustainable competitiveness, social fairness, and resilience based on ambitious objectives for upskilling and reskilling.  

To date, the EC has rolled out nine initiatives and will present proposals on the remaining three before the end of this year. Progress has particularly been achieved in the field of vocational education and training, and lifelong learning: 

  • A Pact for Skills launched: nearly 400 organisations including higher education institutions committed to a charter with key principles on building quality and inclusive skills initiatives. 
  • Skills intelligence strengthened: based on multilingual data collected from various job portals and job adverts across Europe, SkillsOVATE offers information on professional opportunities and related skills. 
  • A new Council Recommendation on vocational education and training together with the Osnabruck declaration have set a strategic vision for EU cooperation and defined a set of concrete actions to be carried out at EU and member state levels. 
  • Youth Employment Support reinforced with a guarantee to reduce unemployment and inactivity amongst young people by preparing them better for the labour market 
  • Europass Platform modernised in July 2020 and used by more than two million people to showcase their skills and connect with jobs and learning opportunities across Europe. 

The related developments with special relevance for higher education are still in the pipeline. 

  • The full roll-out of the European universities initiative (EUI) is currently being co-created by the EC together with the key stakeholders, including the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA), as well as national experts and coordinators of the existing alliances. ACA has recently issued a  position paper statement to support this co-creation process and the launch of the 2022 call planned for this autumn.  
  • European approach to micro-credentials is being developed based on the feedback received over summer through the public consultation on a possible common definition for micro-credentials as well as the quality and transparency of short learning experiences, many of which could be offered by higher education institutions.  
  • Improving the enabling framework to unlock member states’ and private investments in skills is addressed through a series of initiatives including the upcoming European Strategy for Universities and the future Pact for Research and Innovation, which, among others, aim at charting a way forward for increasing investments in R&D and higher education. 

As an active contributor to the consultation and co-creation processes, ACA will continue to report back on these developments to its members and readers.