An EU initiative to match people’s skills to jobs in demand

Euronews reports on the European Year of Skills launched by the European Commission; It aims to advance the European Commission’s agenda to address skills shortages, particularly in relation to the 'digital and green transition’.

Euronews journalists report on this in this episode of Real Economy European Year of Skills launched by the European Commission. It ends in May 2023, which is why we didn’t use '2023′ as it lasted until 2022-2023. The European Year of Skills aims to promote the European Commission’s agenda to tackle skills shortages, particularly in relation to the 'digital and green transition’.

Fanny Gauret visited Odense, Denmark, to visit a public-private consortium. NextGen Robotics. The consortium aspires to become a leader in the next generation of autonomous systems. To do this, their first challenge is to find qualified workers and people with PhDs, which is why NextGen Robotics has developed a suitable strategy: explained Kasper Agaard, representative of the group of companies.

First met Inrotech, a company that develops and sells welding robots, took Christian and Philip a refresher course to adapt to the company’s high-tech environment. Then he met Reza, an Iranian engineer specializing in robotics who was doing his PhD in Odense. Attracting foreign talent is part of NextGen Robotics’ strategy.

2,500 new robotics engineers will be needed by 2025. Our university can train about 200 people per year, so we will fail quickly,” says Kasper Agaard, director of innovation in the business region Fin.

„Abilities are not always equal. So, you have to send a strong message,” says Nicolas Schmidt, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights.

Europe is facing a skilled labor shortage exacerbated by the 'digital and green transition’. In response to this challenge, the European Commission has launched the European Year of Skills. What does this mean? How can labor market needs be addressed?

„I’m in Odense, Denmark, to find a group of future robotics companies and learn about their strategy to train and attract the talent they need to bring their project to a successful conclusion”, explains Fanny Gauret.

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NextGen Robotics Consortium develops next-generation robots and autonomous solutions. Thus, it brings together universities and local companies such as Inrotech, which designs robots for welding. Here, Philip, the marketing manager, is trained in 3D modeling to attract customers.

„Sometimes it’s very difficult to show the customer how the robot looks and works. So learning how to visualize the project … this milling machine, for example, can show how it works and how the customer will be able to use it in their production,” says Inrotech. Marketing Manager Philip Toft Hulskow.

For his part, Christian has taken a new step in his career, training to design a technical data management system.

„With our drawing system, we had a unique task to do. There are not many trained people in Denmark. It is very important that we have this system, and it is very important for me to acquire additional skills in this area,” he says. Christian Rierberg Schmidt is a mechanical engineer at Inrotec.

To stay competitive, Inrotech relies on a positive work environment to attract and retain talent. NextGen Robotics will need to hire workers from artisans to graduates to achieve its goal, explains Casper Agaard, coordinator of the consortium.

„Our strategic forum identified skilled workers as the number one challenge. That’s why we’ve identified six different ways to work with skilled workers,” says Kasper Agaard, Innovation Director of Business Region Fin.

For this reason, NextGen Robotics invests in training and development with support European funds. In addition, it aims to attract students and talents from abroad like Reza. This Iranian, a robotics engineer, has chosen to do his thesis in Odense. I meet him at the industrial port, where he works on prototyping robots for large structures.

“The university has a department called S2 Robotics, which is well-known globally. We are going to build a big center here and try to bring automation and robotics technologies to the marine, construction and energy sectors,” says Mohammad Reza Yasti Samadi, a robotics engineer at the University of Southern Denmark.

To remain competitive in the international robotics market, NextGen Robotics relies on top talent and researchers not only on skill development.

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„If we attract foreign graduate students, we work with different models and then ask ourselves how to ensure that they have a job. Danish companies represent, above all, an attractive workplace. The aim is that you can work in a company where you can really contribute your skills, and your work is not reduced to a mere function,” says Kasper Agard, Director of Innovation, Business Region Fin.

In 2022, the vacancy rate in the EU was 2.8%, ranging from 0.8% in Romania to 4.6% in Austria. This rate is higher than before the coronavirus pandemic in most member states.

„What is the European Commission’s strategy to improve qualifications?” asks Fanny Gouret. To explain it, Euronews offers us a serious study with detailed information about the project launched by the European Union.

Intensive study

Across the EU, employers report problems finding workers with the necessary qualifications. A quarter of the 25 million European SMEs say their biggest problem is recruiting quality managers and employees.

The European Pillar of Social Rights guarantees the right to education and training. However, only 37% of adults participate in training activities, and the EU wants to raise that figure to 60%.

The Year of Skills has four main objectives:

– Encouraging investment in training and skills development

– Ensuring qualifications match employers’ needs

– Adapting the aspirations and qualifications of citizens to the opportunities of the labor market

– Also, attract qualified candidates from outside the EU

An important tool to achieve this Contract for skillsIt helps public and private organizations identify and fill skill gaps.

Almost 1,500 companies have already adopted the scheme and have pledged to provide at least 10 million opportunities to upskill and retrain Europeans.

To implement its strategy, the European Commission has set aside €65 billion to encourage states, regions and companies to invest in training. So why do we need a European Year of Skills? The reporter posed the question to European Commissioner Nicolas Schmidt.

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What do you hope to achieve through this initiative?Ask Fanny Gauret.

„Indeed, this is a strong message to face a big challenge. We are talking about millions of people who need to change or improve their qualifications. Therefore, an important appointment for Europe with its economic future, whether digital or green, with big changes”, Nicholas Schmidt, Employment and The European Commissioner for Social Rights responds.

What qualifications are most in demand in Europe today?The journalist wants to know.

„Of course, there’s a lot of talk about digital skills, and there are hundreds of thousands of open positions in that space. There’s also the construction industry, which is looking for qualified workers. So, as technologies evolve and change to meet the climate challenge, there are many jobs that need reskilling. There are many trades, as they say. , under pressure, so we bet a lot on training, because the transition from training to employment, to the labor market is very good,” declares Nicholas Schmidt.

Do we see a lack of quality jobs and good working conditions, for example, in the health sector?asks the report’s author.

„There is a shortage in the health sector, and working conditions are not always adequate. Therefore, more people need to be trained. But… we also need recognition at the social and wage level,” points out the European Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights.

How can we encourage governments, companies and all stakeholders to invest in and apply lifelong learning policy?Ask Fanny Gauret.

„The Year of Skills is a good opportunity because we will redouble our efforts and show good experiences and projects. In addition, there is a European budget of 65 billion euros for training. There is also the European Social Fund and the Recovery and Resilience Facility. That is a lot of money. But… we will use this money. „We have an extensive qualifications agenda. Now, it’s all about making the most of it and seeing the results,” concludes Nicholas Schmidt.

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