EU Skills Agenda

Last updated: 2 August 2023

The European Union has placed a strong emphasis on a green and digital transformation of its economies, including directing sizeable Covid-19 economic recovery into these areas. The lack of basic digital skills is currently limiting EU countries’ ability to capitalise on emerging opportunities in the clean energy sector. As a result, the European Union is planning for a major skills revolution in both the green and digital spaces. Within ten years, nine out of ten jobs will require digital skills but only around 44% of Europeans are estimated to have basic digital skills and only one in five have digital skills above that level, according to the World Economic Forum. Based on current workforce projections, this implies a skills gap of 1.67 million unfilled jobs in the information communications technology field by 2025.

The European Green Deal targets are projected to create 2.5 million new jobs in the European Union by 2030, driving employment growth of 1.2%, both directly in clean energy sectors as well as in supporting industries. Therefore, the European Union has made upskilling a priority for its just transition. The European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan has a headline target that states at least 60% of adults will participate in a learning experience over a year by 2030 (compared to 37% in 2016).

The EU Skills Agenda also includes ambitious targets to upskill and reskill 120 million adults annually, which means 30% of low-qualified adults would be participating in learning at least once a year, or around 14 million every year, and that the number of adults with basic digital skills would increase by a third. As part of these efforts, the European Union has earmarked sizeable funds to support worker training. While the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), which is dedicated to improving employment opportunities in the European Union, remains the main source of financing, national recovery and resilience funding plans also include reskilling and upskilling activities. Moreover, the European Union has set up a EUR 19.3 billion Just Transition Fund, aimed at mitigating socio-economic impacts stemming from energy transitions, which is also expected to support skills training. Furthermore, the national Recovery & Resilience plans of EU member states must include a chapter on skills in order to release funding from the Recovery & Resilience Facility. 

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