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Financing local pilot projects would support the European Skills Agenda's objectives  
The European Committee of the Regions (CoR) argues that the new European Skills Agenda should take better into account the major role cities and regions play in supporting and developing skills-related policies and infrastructure in most Member States. Rapporteur Csaba Borboly (RO/EPP), President of Hargita County Council, presented the CoR opinion at the plenary session on Wednesday.

​​ The Committee believes that the newly launched Pact for Skills can play an important role in supporting a fair and resilient recovery and shaping the local and regional authorities' (LRAs) efforts to create a skilled workforce for green and digital transformations.

"Investing in people is the best investment one can make. In order to achieve the EU's priorities and targets for the relaunch of economy in post-pandemic period, in the digital era and in the transition toward green economy, we must put our efforts in the development of skills of workforce and their resilience toward the continuously changing trends all regions are affected by. Therefore, the CoR opinion on Skills Agenda is for our communities, for their future in workforce and for the future of the EUs economy", rapporteur Mr Borboly says.

The CoR opinion stresses that working together with stakeholders at local and regional level is necessary for a better understanding of skills-related needs and opportunities in each city or region. The rapporteur suggests that the European Commission should directly support pilot projects at local level in the field of education and training.

"If the European Commission acts to build direct links with LRAs interested in fast-tracking EU funds for pilot projects, the actions could be carried out much more quickly and efficiently. Local and regional partnerships between LRAs, expert groups, employers' representatives and education and training providers are also the most rapid way of understanding how regionally embedded skills acquisition works effectively. Such partnerships can drive local and regional change by building knowledge, understanding and trust and by involving all the different stakeholders", Mr Borboly suggests in an interview published on the CoR website this week.

Mr Borboly's opinion warns that regional disparities created by the skills gap and mismatch in the EU are likely to be widened, if local and regional policies are not well designed and not financed accordingly. It highlights that any EU policy intervention must be in keeping with the regional context, and that a "one-size-fits-all" approach does not work.

In light of the COVID-19 crisis, the opinion underlines the need to improve digital training solutions and distance learning, including for vocational education and training (VET). It also stresses the importance of the STEM skills (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), which should be accessible in all regions and at all levels of education respecting gender balance.

"Delivering digital education goes beyond funding educational platforms and training in digital skills and includes infrastructure such as access to broadband, computers and laptops", Mr Borboly points out.

More information:

In July 2020, the European Commission presented the new European Skills Agenda , which aims to improve the relevance of skills in the EU in order to strengthen sustainable competitiveness, ensure social fairness and build our resilience. It sets ambitious targets for upskilling (improving existing skills) and reskilling (training in new skills) to be achieved within the next five years. For example, 50% of adults aged 25-64 should sign up for training courses every year and 70% of adults aged 16-74 should have at least basic digital skills by 2025.

The Pact for Skills launched by the European Commission in November 2020 is a shared engagement model for skills development in Europe, involving both the public and private sectors. Signatories agree to abide by and uphold the key principles of the Charter: 1) promoting a culture of lifelong learning for all, 2) building strong skills partnerships, 3) monitoring skills supply/demand and anticipating skills needs and 4) working against discrimination and for gender equality and equal opportunities.

Contact:

Lauri Ouvinen

Tel. +32 473536887

lauri.ouvinen@cor.europa.eu

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