Green and digital transitions are altering our way of life, business and interaction – changes which have been further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic is greatly affecting labour market odds for millions of Europeans. In order to recuperate from the crisis, we must seize the opportunities offered by green and digital transitions.
This can only be done if people in Europe have the skills to harness the transitions, which means investing into upskilling and reskilling the workforce. The right to lifelong learning is at the core of the European Pillar of Social Rights. It allows adults to acquire new skills and develop their careers throughout their lives, which is essential for Europe’s recovery.
Vocational education and training (VET) can play a decisive role. VET has helped millions of people to ‘earn as they learn’. But it can offer much more: it gives young learners the initial skills they need for a fulfilling career and provides adults with the means to continue learning and training throughout their working lives.
Vocational education and training can help young people and adults acquire the skills needed in the labour market and find high quality jobs, especially after the crisis caused by the pandemic. A fresh approach to VET must be taken, making it more modern, attractive, flexible and fit for the digital age and green transition.
The European Skills Agenda (July 2020) proposes key actions to support upskilling (the improvement of existing skills) and reskilling, or training in new skills, thus promoting lifelong learning.
The ambitious initiative includes the first comprehensive policy framework for VET at EU level. Even though VET systems are diverse across Member States, our principles and objectives are aligned. VET should:
- cater to the skills needs of both young and adults,
- be reactive to the needs of the labour market and ensure active participation in society,
- be integrated into economic, industrial and innovation strategies,
- VET programmes should embed social and environmental sustainability.
The time to act is now. The move towards digitalisation, sustainability and a greener future will impact all of our jobs.
The European Vocational Skills Week 2020, from 9 to 13 November is all about these challenges and how we can turn them into opportunities. This year’s Week theme is VET for Green and Digital Transitions. Organised in close cooperation with the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union, it will be fully digital and therefore widely accessible.