European Union External Action

EU Statement – Discussion Point 3 of the working party on Shaping Skills and Lifelong Learning for the future of work at the 109th ILC 2021

Geneva, 26/11/2021 - 16:29, UNIQUE ID: 211126_9
Statements on behalf of the EU

I speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, and the EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as the Republic of Moldova, align themselves with this statement.

As highlighted in the Office’s report, imbalances in opportunity and access to education, training and lifelong learning prevail. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the world’s illiterate population are women. Persons with disabilities experience difficulties in participating on an equal basis with others. Data shows that they are overrepresented in early school leaving and are underrepresented in tertiary education attainments. Amongst people in the informal economies, education levels are generally lower. Skills mismatch is increasingly common globally. The changes and challenges that the world is facing cannot be addressed without sufficient skills and without the right policy measures. These challenges can only be turned into opportunities through integrated and forward-thinking approaches.

Efficient education and training systems that enhance the resilience of societies are designed and implemented through constructive cooperation among all relevant stakeholders. Strong cooperation among public authorities, social partners, academia, children and youth representatives, employment services, civil society and all relevant stakeholders is essential in facilitating the development and implementation of adequate skills policies and strategies. Thus, we welcome the whole-of-government approach as outlined in the report. It allows for well-informed, dynamic, efficient and people-centred policy measures, and encourages social dialogue and tripartism.

Cooperation from an ecosystem perspective is important in the identification of skills needs. It can be helpful in furthering recognition of skills acquired in non-formal contexts and can contribute to more efficient funding and investment in skills and lifelong learning programmes. Cross-sectoral collaboration can help identify innovative solutions to challenges, including as regards skills supply and recognition of skills acquired in non-formal and informal settings.

The European Skills Agenda, the strategic document of the European Commission, calls for collective action, mobilising networks of business, social partners and stakeholders to commit to working together. Putting this into action, the Pact for Skills brings together all stakeholders, private and public, including social partners, which share the objective of up- and reskilling. It sets up large-scale partnerships in specific industrial ecosystems, involving all stakeholders which are encouraged to pool expertise, resources and funding towards concrete up- and reskilling actions with clear commitments that will allow people to keep, change or find new jobs and successfully face the digital and green transitions.

We believe that this can serve as a good example for effective stakeholder cooperation, including cementing the understanding that funding skills is an investment, not just a cost, one which will yield significant dividends. Lifelong learning, and adult education and training programmes are underfunded around the world. It is important to adopt a broader perspective and create an environment that incentivizes investment in skills, while also taking into account the important re- and up-skilling and job-creation role of M/SMEs.

Skills, training and education policies, and lifelong learning systems vary broadly between countries. As countries face different challenges to developing and implementing policies, individual assessments of skills supply and demand are necessary. We believe that multilateral partnerships and multi-stakeholder cooperation are crucial to ensuring the exchange of good practices and to developing and implementing agile means of action.

Thank you, Chair!



*The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.


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