Europe has got talent: CESI Youth welcomes upcoming 2023 European Year of Skills

This week the European Commission walked the talk and committed itself to make 2023 the European Year of Skills. CESI Youth and its members welcome the initiative.

As mentioned by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in her 2022 State of the Union speech, the EU faces skills shortages and mismatches which need to be addressed in order for the EU economy to remain competitive.

CESI Youth and its members welcome the initiative of the European Commission to address the existing challenges of the labour market by improving the skills system, European-wide.

There is currently an enormous labour shortage in the EU, and this despite a basic availability of labour force: Many young people are in unemployment. Eurofound’s Company Survey shows that already in 2019 70% of responding companies struggled to find candidates with the right profiles despite quite high levels of unemployment and thus a general availability of workforce. A more recent Eurochambres research from 2022, too, found that a main challenge for many EU companies, following the pandemic, is a skills shortage.

This mismatch between large numbers of unemployed persons on the one side and high numbers of open positions on the other can be partially attributed to skills mismatches as a result of digitalisation processes and green transitions which transform and change the labour spectrum, at a rate and with an intensity that is hard to control.

In view of priorities for the 2023 European Year of Skills, CESI Youth notes:

  • Interventions to address skills mismatches should start early in life by ensuring skills intelligence, meaning the knowledge on which shortages of skills exist in order for policy makers and the business environment, educators, to act accordingly to the reality. Education and training providers (trade unions included) need to ensure that, based on the real needs of the society, they are ready to adapt their curricula and trainings to the needs of the labour market. Support and guidance in the form of early career counselling should be implemented by educational and training facilities and provided to all children from early school years. More public investments in career guidance in the form of one-stop-shops are needed to provide information on labour market needs together with corresponding educational pathways. Moreover, a focus on the real opportunities provided by VET systems is key for addressing the current labour shortages.
  • Empowering individuals to take up training is key to overcome the current crisis on the labour market and to establish a culture of life-long learning. Moreover, consultation mechanisms between education institutions, authorities and companies as well as social actors, including unions and their youth representatives, should be strengthened as this can contribute in the drafting of realistic and effective education-to-work strategies.
  • Europe needs accessible and inclusive labour markets and for this reason reskilling and upskilling should be encouraged throughout one’s life but vulnerable groups should be offered special attention and policies since they are experiencing more difficulties in adapting to green and digital transitions.