The European Committee of the Regions and the European Commission's European Alliance of Apprenticeships (EAfA) organised on 26 January a joint online event, the second in a series of roadmap events leading to a high-level conference on apprenticeships. The event was supported by the German Delegation of the Committee of the Regions, the European Association of Regional & Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning (EARLALL) and the Basque Government. The live-streamed event explored emerging opportunities in relation to apprenticeships for regional and local authorities at a time when the green and digital transitions are accelerating across Europe.
Setting the scene, Norbert Schöbel, Team Leader at the European Commission's Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, began by reminding the audience of the profound impact the green and digital transitions will have on work, education and the way Europeans live. By 2030, one million jobs are estimated to be created by the decarbonisation process in industries and services. As new jobs emerge and some professions become obsolete, apprenticeships have the potential to reduce the skills gap by equipping individuals with the right skills, including green and digital competences. Regions and cities can become catalysts by anticipating the skills needed and facilitating European cooperation by getting involved in EU-funded projects, monitoring and disseminating information, and contributing expertise.
Anne Karjalainen, Chair of the SEDEC Commission, Member of Kerava Municipal Council and CoR Rapporteur on "A Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions", highlighted that the green transition should not be a top-down exercise, but instead a multi-level governance endeavour with the full involvement of local and regional authorities. In the coming years, low-skilled and old workers will likely face difficulties in coping with the transitions. European initiatives including the Just Transition Fund, the European Pillar of Social Rights and the new Skills Agenda must ensure that no people and no places are left behind. Well placed to tackle emerging challenges, local and regional authorities are familiar with the realities on the ground as they provide public services and supply for public needs.
Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, CoR Rapporteur on "Achieving the European Education Area by 2025" and former Prime Minister of Romania, stressed how digitalisation represents a revolution in how Europeans live, teach, learn, work and communicate. To stand ready in the digital era, teachers and trainers must be immediately supported in transferring new skills demanded by the labour market and society. Looking ahead, digitalisation holds the potential to become an inclusive process where, for example, generations can come together to learn and strengthen their skills.
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