Lifelong learning for all: Boosting citizens’ digital skills will increase competitiveness

By Linda Aziz-Rohlje

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The European Union suffers from skills shortages and mismatches. The ongoing Covid-19 crises has further aggravated this pre-existing problem on the labour market. In addition to the European Union rapidly shifting towards digital transformation, citizens need to continuously reskill and upskill their competences in order to fully grasp the opportunities that these changes bring. Renew Europe’s aim is to ensure lifelong learning opportunities for all while enhancing the competitiveness of European companies, where bold goals need to be set up. For example every citizen should be digitally savvy and every child should learn how to code already in primary school.

Therefore, Renew Europe calls for a coordinated and inclusive European strategy to ensure lifelong learning and secured its inclusion in the motion for resolution approved in plenary on Wednesday evening.

There is little we can spare in this endeavour and while we welcome to the European Skills Agenda from the European Commission, we need to see adequate coordination, ambitious implementation and sufficient funding, says Dragoș Pîslaru, Renew Europe’s Coordinator in Committee on Employment and Social Affairs.

The European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience, is a five-year plan set up by the Commission to help individuals and businesses develop more and better skills and to put them to use. In addition to investments made by companies and governments, the European Union has made large sums available to be invested in the citizens and their skills through European programmes like The European Social Fund +, Erasmus +, InvestEU and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. Renew Europe stresses that education remains a Member State competence, but believes that the EU can play an important role in supporting, coordinating and complementing the actions of the Member States in the area of education and skills.

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Mr Pîslaru represented the group in the drafting of the resolution with the European Parliament’s response to the Agenda. He successfully managed to include key priorities of Renew into the resolution, among others calling for broad accessibility to skilling and upskilling for vulnerable groups, including youth and people with disabilities, low-skilled adults, minorities, including Roma, as well as people with a migrant background. In addition, Renew Europe also ensured that the resolution stressed the need to enhance digital skills amongst the current workforce in Europe.

- Digital skills and entrepreneurial skills must be fostered, with inclusive programmes and strategies that ensure access and re and up-skilling solutions for all. Let us bear in mind that 65 percent of children entering primary school are likely to end up working in professions that may not exist today. If Europe wants to stay at the forefront of the world economy, it must protect and develop one of its most important resources: skills! says Pîslaru.

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