Unlocking Skills Potential across Europe: A Comprehensive Recap of the First Pact for Skills Forum

The Pact for Skills was launched on 10 November 2020. It aims to support public and private organisations with maximising the impact of their investment in upskilling and reskilling, so they can thrive through the green and digital transitions.

Skills are central for building a resilient and competitive work force, and for mastering the digital and green transitions. Large and small businesses need skilled people to innovate and grow. The dynamic nature of the labour market can lead to skill mismatches and shortages, which can be major factors for unemployment. This is where the Pact for Skills comes in.

The Pact for Skills promotes joint action to maximize the impact of investing in upskilling and reskilling. It calls on national, regional, and local authorities; companies; social partners; cross-industry and sectoral organizations; chambers of commerce; education and training providers; and employment services to work together and make a clear commitment to invest in training for all people of working age in the EU. This is why Albanian Skills- National Skills Competitions is part of this pact and has joined the European Alliance for Apprenticeships in 2018.

The inaugural Pact for Skills Forum, organized by the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs, and Inclusion (DG EMPL) of the European Commission, was a landmark event held on 21-22 March 2024 at les Ateliers des Tanneurs in Brussels, with its proceedings accessible all over Europe through live streams. This pioneering forum not only showcased the achievements of the Pact for Skills initiative but also laid out a roadmap for its future, marking a significant step toward addressing the skills challenges facing Europe today.

The forum kicked off with a warm welcome and registration, followed by an opening session that underscored the event’s core theme: “Unlocking the potential of skills across Europe.” Moderated by Paul Guest, the session provided a platform for high-level discussions on the pivotal role of skills development in the European Year of Skills.

Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, and Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for the Internal Market, were among the distinguished speakers who illuminated the Pact for Skills’ context within European policy frameworks and its achievements thus far. Their insights, along with contributions from representatives of sectoral alliances and industry leaders, emphasized the collaborative efforts underway to uplift the skills landscape across the continent.

Participants engaged in thematic workshops and discussions ranging from addressing digital transition challenges to attracting and retaining skilled talent. Notable speakers like Manuela Geleng from the DG EMPL European Commission and Jean-Marc Leclerc from IBM shared their expertise on tackling skills shortages, while sessions on Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs) and micro-credentials highlighted innovative approaches to upskilling and reskilling.

The forum facilitated an exchange of ideas and best practices through interactive formats such as the World Café, where attendees connected over shared interests and challenges, contributing to a rich dialogue on enhancing the Pact for Skills’ impact.

The second day of the forum focused on sector-specific experiences and the collective pursuit of upskilling and reskilling initiatives. Presentations from Andriana Sukova of DG EMPL and industry stakeholders showcased the critical role of SMEs and sectoral alliances in driving the green transition and digital transformation.

The discussions extended into how the Pact for Skills community could leverage its collective strength to address Europe’s pressing skills needs, with contributions from a diverse array of speakers, including Oliver Roethig of UNI Europa and Isabel Sobrino Maté from CEMET.

The forum concluded with closing remarks that not only reflected on the event’s accomplishments but also looked ahead to the future of skills development in Europe. Ann Branch, Head of Unit at DG EMPL, alongside Paul Guest, encapsulated the forum’s spirit and its commitment to fostering a skilled, inclusive, and dynamic workforce across Europe.

The Pact for Skills Forum set a high benchmark for stakeholder engagement and collaboration in skills development. Its success lays a solid foundation for future initiatives aimed at unlocking Europe’s full skills potential, ensuring that the continent remains at the forefront of innovation, inclusivity, and growth.

For more information about the event and photos, click here.

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