Integral part of the implementation and success of the YOUTHShare project is the training programme, with the double aim, on the one hand to enhance the skills of beneficiary NEETs and on the other hand to support the Key Account Managers (KAMs) in outreaching, coaching, job matching and skills utilizing for the trainees. The training manual for the KAMs, and the training handbook and educator’s manual for the NEETs have been produced by educators, researchers and social work experts, with the view to introduce NEETs to resilient sectors of the Mediterranean economies, social economy, and IT and web-based economy. In other words, working on enhancing the skills of people, and especially young people, is hard, but in the end highly beneficial.
Why this introduction?
Because earlier this year, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, in her annual speech (State of the Union Address –SOTEU) before the European Parliament, proposed for 2023 to be the European Year of Skills. President von der Leyen focused on the shortage of skills in Europe, with the need to put immediate effort in professional education and upskilling. The proposal was made with the aspiration that 2023 will be the year where the focus on education, upskilling and digital skills will be stronger, “with the effort to achieve the goals set out in the Digital Decade: 80% of Europeans with digital skills and 20 million ICT specialists by 2030” (1). In her address, President von der Leyen also highlighted the importance of knowing what staff are needed in every sector and how the fulfillment of these job positions will be spot on, in terms of skills.
The proposal was adopted in October by the Commission and 2023 is officially declared as the European Year of Skills. In the relevant article on the Commission’s website, it is stated that “The Digital Economy and Society Index shows that 4 out of 10 adults and every third person who works in Europe lack basic digital skills […] To encourage lifelong learning, Member States have endorsed the EU 2030 social targets that at least 60% of adults should participate in training every year, already presenting their national contribution to meeting this target”.It is also stated that “A special focus will be given to activate more people for the labour market, in particular women and young people, especially those not in education, employment or training” (2).
The Commission’s proposal for “a fresh impetus to lifelong learning” consists of 4 recommendations: a) increased, more effective and inclusive investment in training and upskilling, b) ensuring that skills are in line with the needs of the market, c) taking into account people’s aspirations and skill sets to match them with job opportunities, and d) appeal to people from third countries with the skills needed with learning opportunities and mobility and making more easy for their qualifications to be officially recognised.
In conclusion, another aspect should also be taken into consideration: To understand that skills are not only for bettering one’s career prospects, but also for improving their daily, social lives, like life skills and skills that strengthen social inclusion. With all these in mind, it should be interesting to see what 2023 has in store for us.