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Reaching out to people who need help with their skills – Cedefop Brussels seminar

According to Cedefop’s new estimate, 128 million adults (about 46%) in the EU, Iceland and Norway are in potential need of upskilling and/or reskilling. How to reach out to this huge pool of talent and address their comprehensive needs through coordinated and coherent approaches was the central theme of Cedefop’s 7th Brussels seminar on 25 June.

Organised in cooperation with the Romanian EU Presidency, the seminar attracted over 70 participants from a wide range of Brussels-based organisations including the European Commission, the European Parliament, permanent representations, trade union organisations, business organisations, representatives of the civil society and NGOs etc.

The Presidency's Chair of the Education Committee Augustin Mihalache, the European Commission’s Jan Varchola and Cedefop Head of Department for Learning and Employability Antonio Ranieri opened the event and set the scene for the day’s discussions.

Cedefop expert Lidia Salvatore presented the draft analytical framework aimed at supporting stakeholders to develop upskilling pathways for adults which was discussed with EU stakeholders at the Second policy learning forum on upskilling pathways: a vision for the future.

Representatives from Italy and Romania commented on the framework and highlighted their national priorities and challenges. Overall, the need for a well-functioning governance grounded on a shared vision, drawing strong political commitment, with strong stakeholder engagement as well as cooperation and partnerships at all levels, were identified as key ingredients for establishing coherent and coordinated approaches to upskilling pathways.

Cedefop expert Irene Psifidou presented online resources and tools developed by Cedefop to support countries in implementing upskilling pathways. She highlighted the importance of adopting a preventive approach to ensure that the young people of today do not become the low-skilled adults of the future.

Successful preventive approaches drawn from vocational education and training (VET) are illustrated in Cedefop’s VET toolkit for tackling early leaving from education and training. Its newly launched enriched resources offer to policy-makers and VET providers practical guidance, tips, good practices and tools to feed into activities and policies aiming at helping young people to attain at least an upper secondary qualification.

In the final panel discussion, the European Commission’s Anna Nikowska presented the main messages from the report taking stock of the upskilling pathways recommendation implementation, focusing on what the Commission has planned to sustain countries’ implementation efforts. ETUC’s Lodovic Voet and BusinessEurope’s Robert Plummer presented their organisations’ priorities and next steps on adult upskilling and reskilling.

While stakeholders may choose to focus their efforts on specific priorities, the debate highlighted how they generally hold similar views on aims and challenges of upskilling pathways. All panellists stressed that upskilling pathways is a shared responsibility of all stakeholders, highlighting the need to establish an adequate social dialogue involving social partners and relevant stakeholders in the design and implementation of the upskilling vision.