In its programme for the second semester of 2019 the Finnish EU Presidency puts emphasis ‘on taking full advantage of research, development, innovation and digitalisation.’ Fostering skills education and training is part of an EU strategy to create sustainable growth and wellbeing for its citizens.
The Presidency states that ‘our aim should be to make European education, training and research the best in the world,’ adding: ‘The EU needs a future-oriented, wide-ranging strategy for continuous learning that takes into account the transformation of work and digitalisation. To promote education, skills and mobility and strengthen European universities, we also need a much stronger Erasmus programme.’
Youth unemployment is falling across the EU but the Presidency acknowledges that there is more work to be done in order not to lose a generation: ‘We need to better enforce the rules and implement the policy measures agreed on.’
Another priority is to increase the number of skilled workers: ‘With the European economy expanding and employment increasing, we are facing a new challenge: shortages of skilled workers. The EU policies under the Social Dimension are key to increasing the availability of skilled workers in the single market. This will also benefit those who are outside the labour market, since increases in the employment rate contribute to strengthening the financial base and stability of the welfare state.’
Another key measure proposed by the Finnish Presidency for maximising the availability of skilled workers is to increase the labour market participation of women.
Labour mobility remains a priority: ‘We need to remove the remaining barriers to mobility and deepen the European labour market.’
In the context of the EU becoming ‘a global leader in climate action’ a transition to a bioeconomy and circular economy is championed. It ‘will help in modernising our economy and industry, creating jobs, generating sustainable growth and protecting the environment.’
The Presidency will host in Helsinki the regular meeting of Directors-General for vocational education and training (VET) on 14 October and the VET for all – skills for life conference on 16 and 17 October, both held during the 2019 European vocational skills week. The conference will discuss increasing VET’s attractiveness and promoting inclusiveness as a response to the changes occurring in working life.