Written by Monika Kiss,
Surveys reveal that 70 million adults have insufficient basic skills, which can lead to problems at individual and societal levels. The Skills Guarantee aims to encourage upskilling pathways at national level, with implementation and monitoring supported by the European Commission. The European Parliament highlights the importance of the involvement of social partners, the recognition of informal learning outcomes, the appropriate use of funds, synergies with other tools and more action at EU level.
Low-skilled groups at risk on the labour market
A survey by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that nearly 70 million Europeans lack basic reading and writing skills, and even more cannot use numbers or digital tools effectively in daily life. This lack of skills exposes these groups to a high risk of unemployment, poverty and social exclusion, and increases the risk of lower productivity and loss of competitiveness. Additionally, new ways of working, such as collaborative economy models, have generated changes in the skills types needed.
The Skills Guarantee
In the framework of the new skills agenda for Europe, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Council recommendation on establishing a skills guarantee to help low-skilled adults without upper secondary education acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills, and possibly progress towards an upper secondary qualification or equivalent (EQF level 4) on 10 June 2016. In the heterogeneous target group are unemployed, employed or inactive people over 25 (not covered by the ‘youth guarantee‘) with different educational histories, all needing to strengthen basic skills. Member States (MS), in cooperation with social partners, education and training providers, as well as local and regional authorities, should put in place flexible pathways for upskilling. These consist of three steps: a skills assessment, enabling low-qualified adults to identify their existing skills and upskilling needs; designing and delivering education and training tailored to an individual’s and local labour market’s needs; and the recognition of the skills acquired through personalised pathways. These measures are part of a more comprehensive set of policy actions tackling the broader skills challenges: raising the overall level of skills in the EU, making better use of existing skills and anticipating the skills needed. The recommendation calls on MS to draft an implementation action plan within one year from the proposal’s adoption, including coordination arrangements, priority target groups and available financial resources at MS level. The Commission should support the implementation and monitoring of the skills guarantee. Financial support should be provided by the ESF, Erasmus+, EaSi, ERDF, FEAD, EGF or EAFRD.
Listen to podcast ‘Establishing a Skills Guarantee‘
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The European Parliament
The 2006 Recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning was implemented by MS for all levels of education and training and stressed the importance of literacy, numeracy, and digital competences. The 2008 Recommendation on the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning established a reference framework of qualification levels defined through learning outcomes. Both recommendations are for now under revision as parts of the new skills agenda. On 8 November 2016 Parliament adopted an oral question (by Thomas Händel, GUE/NGL, Germany) to the Commission concerning the proposal’s implementation. Parliament asked how MS will be involved in the non-legally binding initiative, and if a mechanism to support MS in the elaboration of their action plans and their monitoring was foreseen. Furthermore, Parliament asked how stakeholders, including social partners, would be involved; if this initiative can be covered without additional funding and especially whether there will be procedures for the reallocation and appropriate use of funds, and a strategy encouraging the participation of MS in the initiative. Finally, Parliament asked how the Commission envisages to tackle early school leaving through this recommendation. The question will be posed at the November Plenary session.
Read this Plenary At a Glance note on ‘Establishing a Skills Guarantee‘ in PDF.