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The role of regions and cities in supporting apprenticeships, upskilling, and reskilling in the health sector  

​As the final in a series of three roadmap events leading to a high-level conference on apprenticeships, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Commission's European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA) organised on 23 March an online event in close cooperation with the European Association of Regional and Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning (EARLALL), the German delegation at the CoR, and the Basque Government. The live-streamed discussion explored local and regional initiatives for training, upskilling and reskilling health workers, taking into account the future skill needs of the sector.

The Cedefop Skills Forecast projects that, by 2030, the EU health care sector will have grown by 10.1% and added close to 2.2 million jobs to the European economy. However, the Skills Forecast also foresees considerable national differences developing within the EU, driven by factors such as ageing populations and migration. By 2030, for example, health sector employment in Romania will grow by 47.4%, whereas in Lithuania employment in the sector is predicted to shrink by 14.4%.

Birgitta Sacrédeus (SE/EPP), CoR Member and Regional Councillor and Member of the Dalarna Regional board, pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic had led to a significant increase in the number of people interested in becoming a nurse. During the pandemic, the region of Dalarna developed successful lifelong learning initiatives for older workers, and offered reskilling programmes (for flight attendants, for example) allowing workers to become nursing assistants. More broadly, the health sector serves as an efficient gateway into the labour market and holds untapped potential as an integration tool for migrants.

Romy Karier (LU/EPP), CoR Member and Councillor of the Municipality of Clervaux, ​called for a greater level of harmonisation in health care qualifications across EU Member States. To integrate lifelong learning prospects, nursing training programmes should provide bridges that enable nurses to transition from​ lower diploma to higher qualifications, such as a bachelor's degree. As an example of reskilling initiatives, she explained that second chance programmes allowing mid-career professionals to become nursing assistants were launched in Luxembourg, requiring a time commitment of two days a week for three years.

The main conference on 'The Role of Regions and Cities in Delivering High Quality Apprenticeships' will take place on 3–4 June.

​Read the full report here.