European Commission publishes Action Plan to tackle skills and labour shortages

On 21 March 2024, the Commission published an action plan to tackle labour and skills shortages and proposes to work together with Member States and social partners to address these issues in the years ahead. The action plan is part of the EU’s strategy to boost its competitiveness and enhance its economic and social resilience.

For almost a decade, labour and skills shortages have been increasing in all Member States. The European Commission considers that these shortages are driven by demographic shifts, the demand for new skills linked to technological developments and the twin transitions, the drive to develop further our own industrial sectors, defence and security needs, and challenges related to working conditions in some sectors and locations.

The action plan is also a key deliverable of the European Year of Skills.

The action plan is a follow-up to the Val Duchesse Social Partners Summit of January 2024. The Commission proposes five areas to be implemented swiftly at the EU, national, and social-partners’ level, namely on:

  • Supporting the activation of underrepresented people in the labour market
  • Providing support for skills development, training and education
  • Improving working conditions in certain sectors
  • Improving fair intra-EU mobility for workers and learners
  • Attracting talent from outside the EU

The Commission considers that addressing labour and skills shortages is crucial in boosting sustainable economic growth in the EU, seizing the opportunities of the green and digital transitions, fostering the creation of quality jobs, increasing economic and social resilience in the face of geopolitical shifts, and ensuring sufficient funding for employment and social policies in the EU.

Tentative actions by the Commission:

  • finance new projects on zero long-term unemployment;
  • finance new projects on activating and upskilling young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs);
  • co-finance more Centres of Vocational Excellence with a target of at least 100 new ones by 2027;
  • set up new skills partnerships under the Pact for Skills;
  • improve skills intelligence – mapping what the skills needs are of today and the future – in close coordination with EU agencies;
  • analyse sick leave policies to identify best practices for workers and businesses;
  • evaluate the impact of pension reforms introducing more opportunities for flexible retirement and for combining pension income with a salary;
  • peer review national approaches to address psychosocial risks at work.

Member States play an important role, namely to::

  • revise education and training curricula to better meet the labour market needs
  • enact benefit reforms that address pockets of inactivity and provide sufficient support for those who can work to gradually return to the labour market
  • pursue tax reforms that reduce the tax wedge for second wage earners and low-income earners
  • further support the digitalisation of social security coordination to facilitate fair labour mobility
  • swiftly adopt and implement Council Recommendation ‘Europe on the move – learning mobility opportunities for everyone’
  • engage in talent partnerships to enhance legal migration pathways

Looking onwards, the Commission will continue monitoring progress in implementing this action plan within the framework of the European Semester.

About the Mediterranean Observer

The Mediterranean Observer is a news portal dedicated to travel tourism, and hospitality in the Mediterranean region. This portal is managed by the Mediterranean Tourism Foundation, based in the Mediterranean country of Malta.