Future of Work: Making it e-Easy

On the 30th of November, the Council of the European Union adopted conclusions on the future of work and digital skills.

The skills’ needs of the future are difficult to predict and the life span of skills is likely to shrink due to rapid technological changes. Smart investments in skills, driven by existing demand and emerging trends, are needed to support workers’ employability, full participation of women and men in the labour market, integration of legally residing newly arrived third country nationals while respecting national competences enshrined in the Treaties and changes in the economy. Governments, employers and workers alike need to increase their efforts to plan re-skilling and up-skilling activities.

Governments need to create sufficient framework conditions for participation in lifelong learning and post-initial education. Governments and educational institutions should work in close cooperation with businesses and social partners to ensure that education not only matches labour market needs, but also provides students with the generic skills that are necessary to fully participate in society and to acquire new skills later on in their career (i.e. learn how to learn). Employers will have to actively engage in boosting and better using the skills of their employees if they want to stay competitive. Taking into account the changes in employment patterns, it must be ensured that all workers can effectively participate in measures aimed at developing their skills throughout their working life. Employers and workers together should create work environments in which the continuous development of skills, both through formal and informal learning, is a natural part of work. Work-based learning is a good example of how the mutual needs of employer and future employees can be combined. Workers will also be expected to take more responsibility for developing their skills.

Low levels of basic skills, such as literacy, numeracy and digital skills persist amongst a significant part of the European population, undermining their employability. To address the skills gap, there is an urgent need to increase the participation in lifelong learning, particularly among those who are most likely to be negatively affected by changing skills demand. The improvement in basic skills including digital skills must be an essential part of lifelong learning in order to prevent further exclusion from employment and society and to promote transitions to the labour market.

The supply of accessible, affordable and flexible learning opportunities should be increased, for instance, by making learning more accessible, by improving the validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning, increasing the supply of modular forms of education and through the use of on-line tools, and by recognising the skills acquired. This needs to be accompanied by appropriate outreach and guidance to encourage companies and individuals to participate.


    In: Growth & Competitiveness, Skills
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