Europe Day is an important occasion to look back on the progress achieved to date but also an opportunity to look towards the future and engage in an active discussion. An active dialogue between the European institutions and relevant stakeholders is essential in continuing to revitalize the European dream and deepen the European integration. This is particularly relevant at present in view of the extraordinary challenges the EU has faced in recent years.
In view of the need to address skills shortages in the EU, as well as upgrade the skills of millions of people with a focus on the green and digital transition, the theme chosen for 2023 is the European Year of Skills. The European Commission estimates that the green transition could create up to 1 million additional jobs in the EU by 2030. This is coupled with the fact that 4 out of 10 adults who work in Europe currently lack basic digital skills.
MBB President Alison Mizzi stated that, “Employers and workers operate in markets which are defined by change. While important to take stock and dedicate primary focus in a given year, the skills gaps challenge is a long-term one. Looking beyond 2023, on a macro level, the EU must continue providing policy tools matching the labour market needs. On a micro level, employers will require to continue undertaking consisting monitoring of their workers’ competencies and ensure adequate training takes place to align the skills with their enterprise’s current and future needs.”
Ms. Mizzi continued that, “The European Year of Skills therefore needs to be synchronised with broader efforts to underpin progress in the European semester process, which must be supported with investments, necessary reforms and effective social dialogue aiming to foster skills development.”
“Significant effort is required to increase the interest in STEM-related programmes as well as increasing female participation in tertiary-level STEM subjects. There is also a need to focus more on the content and learning outcomes of traineeships. With improved skills and knowledge trainees are eventually integrated in a qualified and competent workforce,” Ms. Mizzi concluded.
Positively, the European Year of Skills aims to action several initiatives in ensuring that a cohesive tangible effort is achieved across the EU. Through a calendar of activities, the EU will promote upskilling and reskilling opportunities, highlights EU funding possibilities, and organises national events and awareness-raising campaigns encouraging enterprises and workers to take up opportunities for upskilling and reskilling. Furthermore, the EU Pact for Skills, which is an important policy initiative to addresses skills shortages and skills gaps includes a tool aimed at extending the possibility for employers to screen third country national candidates through an EU Talent Pool as part of the Talent Partnerships Initiative, and which is expected to be published later this year.
The Malta Business Bureau is the EU business advisory organisation of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. The MBB is also a partner of the Enterprise Europe Network.