EU Skills Agenda – the big questions

Tomorrow European Commissioner Marianne Thyssen will unveil proposals for an EU Skills Agenda in the European Parliament, with a press conference later in the week.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) believes that an ambitious agenda with concrete actions is essential: to upgrade skills to enable people seeking work to get jobs, for workers to remain employed and to move to better jobs, and to enable the European economy to meet the many challenges ahead.

The ETUC will be asking a number of questions about the forthcoming Skills Agenda.
Specifically, the ETUC will be checking if it proposes:

  1. A guarantee or right to training? The ETUC proposes a Professional Skills Guarantee for low-skilled workers and the unemployed, and a right to training for all workers, preferably guaranteed by collective agreements between trade unions and employers;
  2. A boost to paid educational leave to help workers launch a new phase of their career (not related to current job-specific needs) as enshrined in the UN International Labour Organisation’s Paid Educational Leave Convention - ratified by only 13 EU member states;
  3. Specific EU actions to push member states to invest more in education, training and life-long learning;
  4. Initiatives to promote quality apprenticeships;  
  5. The inclusion of part-time and temporary workers, and migrants and refugees, in the Skills Agenda;
  6. The involvement of trade union representatives in the forward planning of employment and training, such as is common through co-decision in Germany, the negotiation of company training plans in France and the involvement of ‘trade union learning reps’ in the UK.

ETUC Confederal Secretary Thiébaut Weber said “Europe desperately needs a major drive to support workers to upgrade their skills, and to meet the challenges of digitalisation, decarbonisation, and an ageing population. A focus on training, skills and qualifications is certainly part of the solution, but only if supported by investment in it, and as well as in infrastructure, R&D, industrial policy and public services.”

For the ETUC’s input to the European Commission for its Skill Agenda

For more on the ETUC’s proposals for quality apprenticeships see

For a list of countries who have ratified the ILO Paid Educational Leave Convention see  and of those who have not