Members of the European Parliament discussed new Skills Agenda for Europe


Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) and from the Committee on Culture and Education (CULT) held a joint meeting on 27 February to discuss a series of points, including the own-initiative report on the Commission Communication for a new skills agenda for Europe. Members of the European Commission’s DG for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion took part to the meeting, highlighting the priorities of the Commission, particularly with regard to the importance of education, with a strong focus on employability. The new skills agenda for Europe will be the subject of regular discussions until June 2017.

The focus on employability

While MEPs agreed on the importance of dealing with skills in Europe, many stressed the fact that the Commission’s Communication was failing to address some key issues, such as early school dropouts, a focus on teachers and the fact that education should not only be aimed at employability. Overall, the general feeling is that employability should not be the main goal of education and training. On the contrary, education should be a goal in itself and much importance should be given from the point of view of social inclusion and respect of others. The value of entrepreneurship as well as practical education in vocational training has also been mentioned and the main goal of the Agenda should be to strengthen the human capital, as well as to be a useful instrument to provide jobs.

Detflef Eckert, Director Skills Policy in Commission DG for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, representative of the Commission at the meeting, stressed the fact that the focus on employability was a clear choice, while affirming that the European Commission has not neglected the “the wider importance of education for life”. He then concluded by saying that, considering increasing changes within the working environment, the Agenda is an important step for the future, and investing in skills is a cornerstone for answering to new, upcoming challenges.

Education is also key in the e-commerce sector

The new skills agenda is an essential step also in the e-commerce sector. In fact, among the many barriers to the digital economy, one can identify Europe’s shortage of ICT-skilled human capital or “e-skills”. This lack of knowledge on IT-related matters represents also a problem in the e-commerce as it may lead to a lack of further growth in the sector. Therefore, e-commerce education is key to pave the way towards the development of e-skills, developing e-commerce and the cross-border provision of services which make the online sales sector grow. Given the great importance of developing digital skills, many National e-commerce associations, members of Ecommerce Europe, decided to lunch digital academies to form digital talents to meet the growing needs of e-business.

Next steps

The European Parliament will discuss the draft report on 23 March. The deadline for tabling amendments is on 30 March and their adoption on 25 April. The final adoption of the own-initiative report is expected on 21/22 June 2017.