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Commissioner Schmit calls for a skills revolution during visit to Zagreb

15 Dec, 2023 | News

Addressing the conference ‘Skills for the future – powered by ESF+’ in Croatia, Commissioner Nicolas Schmit underlined the key role of the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) in bridging Europe’s skills gaps.

All over Europe, the digital and green transitions are transforming the nature of society and the labour market. Digital skills are now needed in all areas of our lives, while green skills are increasingly becoming essential to fuel the transition to climate neutrality.

There are also substantial skills shortages facing the continent, with sectors across all skill levels experiencing labour constraints. These shortages not only affect individual nations but also the competitiveness and economic stability of the European Union as a whole.

In the face of these growing challenges, the Commissioner stressed the importance of lifelong learning and upskilling: ‘Skills matter, because skills are the wealth of Europe – not oil, nor gas, or other underground resources. The foundation of the European social model is the skills of its people.’

Commissioner Schmit lauded Croatia’s efforts in developing adults’ digital skills and pointed out the country’s ambitious targets under the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan, aiming for a significant increase in adult training participation. This aligns with the broader EU objectives of enhancing employment rates and reducing poverty.

To support these goals, initiatives like the Pact for Skills and the development of individual learning accounts, partly funded by the ESF+ and the Recovery and Resilience Facility, will be instrumental.

Croatia is dedicating €277 million from its ESF+ programme into developing skills. This investment will focus on improving education for the unemployed, updating labour market services, reinforcing vocational training, and supporting youth employment initiatives.

In his speech, the Commissioner stressed the need to maintain momentum beyond the European Year of Skills. Investing in skills, he argued, is synonymous with investing in a stronger economy and a fairer society.