Around 77 million European citizens aged between 25 and 64 have no - or low - formal qualifications, stresses a new report published by the European Commission. This is nearly one third of Europe's population. Unemployment is closely related to low skills, while people with higher skills are more likely to find a job.
Entitled 'New skills and jobs for Europe', the report is based on an extensive review of 17 research projects funded by the Research and Innovation Directorate-General under the Sixth and Seventh Framework Programmes (FP6 and FP7). The projects investigated various training and job creation strategies designed to promote economic and social cohesion, as well as specific objectives of the Europe 2020 flagship initiative.
The report argues that the way forward is a more open dialogue. It should be based on innovative comparative evidence on the employment record of Europe and a critical assessment of existing policies. Mutual experience and policy learning are identified as important tools in the fight against precarity and unemployment.
In its conclusions, the European Commission stresses that equal access to education and continuous vocational training are associated with higher levels of employment. Higher levels of job creation can also be obtained through means of ambitious labour market policies that support a high variability of employment contracts and a high level of job transitions.
Other key findings include the fact that transversal skills with strong emphasis on areas such as communication, problem solving, linguistics and information and communication technologies, are increasingly important; or that, in the light of increasing economic uncertainty, good governance of skills can ensure the mutual enforcement of skill evolution and job creation.
Finally, the Commission stresses the high importance of making the market fit for workers. This can be achieved by adjusting workplaces in order to enhance people's capabilities and to compensate restricted work capacities. Incentives such as technical assistance, carefully targeted in-work benefits or wage cost subsidies, are cited as examples of good practice in this regard.
'New skills and jobs for Europe' structures its findings around the four main priorities set out by the Europe 2020 initiative: better-functioning labour markets, a more skilled workforce, better job quality and working conditions, as well as stronger policies to promote job creation and demand for labour. Information on specific target groups and the role that Europe can or should play are also detailed.
The document builds on project final reports, working papers and policy briefs. It also drew on relevant project books, academic articles and work from institutions such as the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) and the Orgnisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
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