Speaking to the members of the European Parliament’s EMPL Committee on 28 January in Brussels, Cedefop Executive Director Jürgen Siebel urged the MEPs and experts present to think about sending their children to vocational education and training (VET). It’s a first choice, he said.

Mr Siebel presented Cedefop’s work in 2019 and objectives for 2020 along with his counterparts from fellow EU agencies Eurofound, European Training Foundation, EU-OSHA and European Labour Authority.

He pointed out that Cedefop has been recognised in recent years as a centre of quantitative and qualitative policy-relevant research on VET for young people and adults, skills and qualifications and, increasingly, knowledge-brokering. Its revised Founding Regulation, in force for the past year, is a formal recognition of activities beyond VET already ongoing for some time.

Future goals

Working towards 2030, Cedefop’s policy priorities are connected to the new skills agenda, the upskilling pathways policy implementation, active support to employment in the context of the European pillar of social rights, anticipating labour market and skill needs, promoting lifelong employability, the changing role of VET, the European green deal and the UN sustainable development goals.

A number or tools are used to communicate results of this work. Evidence is increasingly provided through online tools, with 12 currently accessible via the Cedefop website’s homepage.

Giving some key insights from the agency’s work, Mr Siebel said that for 47% of EU firms, lack of staff with the right skills is a major obstacle for investment; the firms most likely to be in that situation are micro or SMEs, innovative, growing companies, companies in construction/manufacturing and those with difficult access to finance.

He highlighted automation as a threat to low- and medium-skilled jobs, a key pointer to the need to step up training and lifelong learning.

Innovative work

Mr Siebel mentioned Cedefop’s online job vacancies analysis, which uses big data to find out the skills employers want. It complements other sources of skills intelligence such as forecasts, tracer studies and sectoral analysis.

At the same time, the new CrowdLearn study looks at how learning and skills matching are changing. Since independent gig work exemplifies trends visible in the broader labour market, policy lessons may also be useful in forming future European skills policy more generally.

Cedefop’s work in 2020 will focus on skills intelligence, skills development and monitoring VET policy developments. It will include a study of the links between company skills and business strategies based on the European company survey developed in cooperation with Eurofound. ‘We have a strong focus on skills that help achieve the digital and green transitions and on transversal employability skills,’ Mr Siebel concluded.

An exchange of views between the directors and the audience of MEPs and experts followed.

Heinz Becker, who has been nominated by the European Parliament as an independent expert to Cedefop’s Management Board, stressed the importance of lifelong learning and expressed his support to the agency’s motto of ‘making VET fit for the future’.

Replying to questions from MEPs, Mr Siebel said that digitalisation and demography are at the top of Cedefop’s agenda: ‘Through our labour market intelligence and respective tools citizens can learn about emerging skills; we also do a lot of work on validation and guidance.’

He added that the five agencies have distinct expertise but still collaborate.

In her remarks, Agnes Jongerius MEP, who chaired the session, said that the five agencies are important for the EMPL Committee’s work. She thanked the directors for the good cooperation in previous periods and prompted them to ‘keep up the good work.’

You can watch Mr Siebel’s presentation here.

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Cedefop Executive Director J. Siebel's presentation at European Parliament's EMPL Committee on 28.01.2020