Youth unemployment is at the forefront of political and academic concern and debate, a subject made even more immediate and relevant as the societal effects and repercussions of the global pandemic become ever more evident.
A recognition of the importance of key competences development both designs and drives education and employment policies of European and other global groupings.
With the EU economy in constant evolution, the demand for relevant knowledge, applicable skills and associated attitudes also changes over time. To deal with these changes, people need to be equipped with a set of key competences – including literacy, numeracy and digital competence. Critical thinking, creativity and collaboration – the ability to work as part of a team – are equally important to build sustainable careers. The burgeoning labour market needs to be open to new experiences and skills.
Education and training play a crucial role in enabling young people, in particular, to develop these competences and skills and, thereby, provide the foundation and conditions for the best possible start in life. However, learning skills and the ability to adapt is a lifelong affair.
To better identify and manage the acquisition of required knowledge, skills, and attitudes, and prevent the emergence of skills gaps and mismatches, effective communication of the needs of the EU economy to the education and training sector is essential.
The Council of the European Union, in its ‘European Pillar of Social Rights’ recognises the importance of the above, and states as its first principle that “Everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and lifelong learning in order to maintain and acquire skills that allow full participation in society and successful transitions in the labour market. It also states the right of everyone to timely and tailor-made assistance to improve employment or self-employment prospects, to training and re-qualification, to continued education and to support for job search”.
The European Commission’s‘European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience’defines 12 actions for upskilling (improving existing skills) and reskilling (training in new skills) for the coming five years. With this Agenda, the European Commission aims to address structural gaps and to enable the transition of the existing systems to a green and digital economy. The Agenda comes amid enhanced social and economic challenges, as Europe attempts to step out of the lockdown and enters into the recovery phase.
All the above resonates and supports the direction you are taking in this sector through your diverse projects on developing learning skills – particularly in the digital and green sectors; training; research; mentoring; dealing with the skills mismatch; improvements in self efficacy; exchange of best practices, etc. With the projects targeting the more vulnerable societal sectors, your efforts offer a great contribution to European efforts at resolving one of Europe’s major problems.
Finally, the new editorial direction for the Magazine with the decision to concentrate editions around specific sectors/clusters is an important and constructive change. The aggregated project information will allow for more precise analysis with a fuller panorama of activities within a given sector. This, in turn, will be very helpful for information and communication outreach, as well as studies on the overall impact assessment of your work.
Thomas Mc Grath
Our Irish Journalist