Skills, innovation and the provision of, and access to training - Final report on the European social partners' integrated project
- Employee training is mainly the responsibility of social partners. When organising employee training, national social partners need to take into account the realities of the labour markets and the needs of workers, including changes of tasks and jobs, innovation, mobility and transitions into and between jobs.
- Fostering a lifelong learning culture in workplaces is essential to help workers to develop in their career and to improve their employment opportunities. Improving the number of adults participating in training at all skills levels is essential in line with the 1st principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights on the right to training and lifelong learning 1 and to foster their employability, to get a higher skilled workforce adapted to rapidly evolving labour market needs, and to increase productivity and innovation.
- Being aware of the European Commission’s intention to propose a Council recommendation on individual learning accounts (ILAs), the European social partners reiterate that a one-size-fits all approach is not appropriate. There are many tools used, for example, paid educational training leaves (by law or through collective agreements), personal training accounts or training funds (cross-industry or sectoral), vouchers, etc, which all have specific objectives and target groups. A key challenge is to make these tools inter-operable. The success and inter-relation of the different tools depends on the country-specific institutional framework. However, an important pre-condition for the tools to succeed is that their existence and their functioning is well communicated to all potential users and be governed together with the social partners.
- Innovation, that has a market and positive societal impact, will be even more crucial in the years ahead for a socially just and competitive Europe in the face of ambitious environmental targets, digitisation, health risks and demographic ageing. Therefore, it is important to strengthen and enhance social dialogue and further cooperation between Member States, social partners, enterprises and education and training institutions to ensure quality jobs, address unresolved skills mismatches and reduce skills shortages, which are damaging Europe’s innovation capacity. In order to ensure that every worker is ready and equipped for the green and digital transitions, it is essential to help them to access the validation of non-formal and informal learning and provide them with training on the new skills that are needed, based on recognising and certifying their existing skills gained during previous trainings and work experiences. This will also be important for Europe’s innovation potential. Therefore, enhancing access to training to improve the level and relevance of qualifications is essential.
- Supporting more upskilling and reskilling of workers will require quality and effective apprenticeships and traineeships which can help with students’ integration in the labour market. In order to foster innovation as both a top-down and bottom-up process in every aspect of work, it should include workers in all sectors and sizes of companies. Therefore, workers’ training is important to improve their contribution to incremental and breakthrough innovation. It is important to strengthen collaboration between the relevant actors involved in education, training, research, innovation and labour markets. This will help to increase enterprises’ capacity to innovate, bring new products to market and ultimately boost an innovation culture.
- Digitalisation, greening, including efforts to reduce the carbon footprint, and the emergence of new technologies mean that occupational profiles need to be adapted and that workers need to acquire and utilise new skills. The European social partners Autonomous Framework Agreement on Digitalisation outlines measures to be considered by national social partners, such as internal and external validation solutions and the financing of training by employers when a worker is requested to undertake job-related training linked to digitalisation.
- The European cross-industry social partners support the ongoing efforts made by the European Commission to reinforce European-level initiatives on skills, education and training with a sectoral focus. For instance, the Blueprints for sectoral cooperation on skills, the Pacts for skills in industrial ecosystems, the sector-specific platforms of Centres for Vocational Excellence contribute, amongst other things, to improve training strategies which can respond to the skills needs across sectors, hence supporting Europe’s position in the key value chains and industrial ecosystems. European sectoral social partners play a key role in those EU projects. The role of sectoral social partners and dialogue in training provision could also be further enhanced through the promotion and strengthening of training funds.