European skills development systems do converge, but with still a long way to go, while early indications suggest that the coronavirus pandemic has been delaying unhindered transfer of skills to the labour market.

The 2022 results of Cedefop’s European skills index (ESI), which assesses the performance of European skills systems and the improvements made over time, show that skills development systems seem to be converging in Europe, even though there is still a long way to go until full convergence is achieved.

The ESI also highlights the areas where further attention should be given to by each country and is built on three pillars of investigation:

  • skills development;
  • skills activation;
  • skills matching.

These three pillars are divided into six sub-pillars and then into 15 measurable indicators that are closely related to policy monitoring and questions. The performance of the overall skills system is summarised by the ESI score.

This year's ESI edition, which has gone through an independent statistical audit made by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre to ensure methodologically sound and robust results, examines the impact of COVID-19. Even though it is still early to be fully captured, it concludes that the repercussions are evident with regards to skills activation and countries with an overall weaker skills system have been hurt the most.

Findings suggest that, although skills matching has been improving significantly over time, the pandemic’s consequences (i.e. difficulties of younger people to reach the labour market) will possibly be reflected in the years to come.

Cedefop 2022 European skills index rankings

The 2022 rankings (figure 1 above), group countries into four broad categories based on their performance, but results indicate that all countries have significant room for improvement in all dimensions.

‘The new release comes at a time when Europe is going through the digital and green transitions while being further challenged by the coronavirus pandemic. Building solid skills systems can be the answer to these transitions,’ Cedefop expert, responsible for developing the ESI, Ilias Livanos points out.

Check out our video for an overview of the tool.