EU Sets Formal Agenda to Address Mismatch of Worker Skills, Jobs

Susan Hall
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The European Commission last week approved a plan to help its member states close the gap between workers' skills and the jobs of the future.


The measure, "Agenda for New Skills and Jobs," is designed to head off expected labor shortages in sectors such as ICT (information and communication technologies) and health care. quotes EU Commissioner Lszl Andor's presentation to the European Parliament:

We need to equip people with the right skills for the jobs on the market today and in the future. We know that even now some employers are struggling to fill vacancies because they cannot find people with the right skills.

For instance, the article says, as many as 700,000 job vacancies in ICT could go unfilled in the next five years.


The agenda focuses on four areas: the functioning of the labor market; skills; job quality and working conditions; and job creation. It proposes 13 actions at the EU level to be carried out with member states and other partners.


Among the planned actions is the creation of a new online tool called the "EU skills panorama," to be launched in 2012. It essentially will be a public clearinghouse of job information, for example, on which countries are experiencing shortages of workers in specific areas or occupations.


Meanwhile, EUROCHAMBRES, an association of more than 1,200 European chambers of commerce and industry, has criticized the agenda as not addressing the real causes of unemployment and has expressed concern that the measure might actually make things worse. It argues that the commission should re-evaluate tools already in place to address the mismatch of skills to determine why they have not worked.


The association also criticized the commission's stance on "atypical work," such as temporary work, freelancing and short-term contracts. The Financial quotes the association's secretary general, Arnaldo Abruzzini, saying:

What the commission still terms atypical is becoming increasingly typical. Europe needs diverse work patterns and contracts if we are to increase labor market participation rates, entrepreneurial activity and growth.

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