18.03.2011 POLICY

Solidar on Investing in New Skills, Competences and Knowledge

Almost 84 million people in Europe are living in poverty or at the threat of falling into poverty. 77 million Europeans aged 25-64 (nearly 30%) still have, at most, a lower secondary education. Non-formal and informal education and training (prior learning) play a key role in skills development, as well as in promoting active inclusion and social cohesion.

SOLIDAR regrets that the Commission´s "Agenda for new skills and jobs" gives priority to job creation via flexibility measures, and in second place identifies the development of skills, competences and knowledge and promoting decent work and quality jobs.

SOLIDAR proposes the following adjustments to reinforce the Commission´s Agenda for new skills and jobs:

  1. Guaranteeing equal access to quality public education without distinction of cultural or social origin.
  2. It is essential that skills, competences and knowledge acquired through non-formal and informal learning are recognised and validated as part of the strategy to bridge education „gaps‟ and hence contribute to increasing people´s life opportunities.
  3. Rebalancing flexicurity by giving more importance to social security. The proliferation of "atypical" employment contracts in most Member States has contributed to aggravate labour market segmentation and to reduce the security of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged employees. In this context, social security systems should be modernised in ways that ensure active inclusion by guaranteeing poverty-proof income support, access to decent work and to affordable quality services.
  4. Promoting decent work and quality jobs which means equal access to employment and social security, equal treatment, a living wage, social dialogue, individual and collective labour rights. This includes the need to support social, care and education services and infrastructures to bridge skills gaps and help especially vulnerable people in realising their participation in the labour market and in society.
  5. Support Member States in creating health, care and green jobs by ensuring that European structural funds are invested into social, health, care and education services and infrastructures, and by providing services providers with a long-term fiscal sustainability that goes beyond EU funding periods. Further, the innovative potential of the social economy in creating employment opportunities and contributing to social cohesion should be developed and supported.

In SOLIDAR´s view, investing in skills, competences and knowledge and recognising and validating both „soft‟ and „hard‟ skills, competences and knowledge acquired through informal, non-formal and vocational education and training is necessary to contribute to fighting education „gaps‟ and hence contributing to increasing people´s opportunities to access the labour market and to participate in society (active citizenship, volunteering). This approach must be the first priority in the Commission´s Agenda for new skills and jobs.

Read the full briefing.