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European Year of Skills
News article19 December 2023Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion4 min read

Introduction of the Skills and Talent Mobility Package

As part of the European Year of Skills, the Skills and Talent Mobility package will take forward the implementation of the Pact on Migration and Asylum and the Skills and Talent package adopted in April.   

Last year, the job vacancy rate in the EU rose to almost 3%, double the level of 10 years ago. Demographic change is expected to exacerbate labour market challenges, with the EU's working-age population falling from 265 million in 2022 to 258 million in 2030. The EU's transition to a green and digital economy is creating a high demand for specific skills in certain sectors. The most significant labour and skills shortages are concentrated in healthcare, long-term care and social work activities, construction, manufacturing, transport and storage, accommodation and food services, engineering, technical and scientific activities and information and communication technology (ICT). In addition, almost four out of five companies report that they generally find it difficult to recruit workers with the right skills, and more than half of them find it difficult to retain skilled workers.  

The European Union’s first priority in tackling labour shortages is the activation of vulnerable groups in the labour market, including the elderly, people with disabilities, people with a migrant background, women and young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs). Such measures must go hand in hand with re-skilling, up-skilling and improving working conditions in certain occupations to make them more attractive.    

However, the scale of the challenge is such that the EU cannot address all the labour shortages only through activation alone. In her State of the Union address in 2022, President von der Leyen underlined the importance of attracting skilled third-country nationals to the EU.   

International job matching remains complex and costly for both non-EU nationals and employers. Employers' lack of understanding and trust in skills and qualifications acquired in third countries is a significant barrier to talent and skills mobility. This not only affects the attractiveness of the EU but also leads to 'brain waste' – with third-country nationals often working below their qualification level.    

The Skills and Talent Mobility Package is a comprehensive set of measures to attract, retain and maximise foreign talent. It also includes some additional measures to reduce the barriers to international recruitment and to ensure that third-country nationals can make full use of their skills and qualifications in Europe, for example by building trust in the qualifications and skills acquired in third countries and by promoting information exchange.   

The initiatives in the package consist of two strands: the new EU Talent Pool and measures to promote the recognition of qualifications and the mobility of learners.   

EU Talent Pool to attract skilled workers  

The EU Talent Pool aims to make it easier to recruit job seekers from non-EU countries in EU-wide shortage occupations, particularly those relevant to a significant number of Member States and relevant to the green and digital transitions.  

It is the first EU platform of its kind to make international recruitment easier and faster. Participation will be voluntary for Member States, which will support the management of the platform. It will also provide information on recruitment and migration procedures in the Member States and include strong safeguards to ensure fair recruitment and working conditions. 

Faster recognition of qualifications and skills  

The Commission Recommendation on the recognition of qualifications of third-country nationals proposes a series of measures to simplify and speed up the recognition of skills and qualifications of third-country nationals. These measures would modernise the current EU recognition system and bring it closer to the system established for EU nationals moving to another Member State.  

The aim is to develop the capacity of national recognition authorities to simplify and speed up procedures by improving the comparability of third-country qualifications and the assessment of job seekers' skills. This will allow for recognition decisions to be taken quickly and with confidence to fill vacancies in EU shortage occupations, in particular in priority regulated professions.  

Facilitating the mobility of learners and staff involved in teaching and training - ‘Europe on the Move’  

The Skills and Talent Mobility package includes a proposal for a Council Recommendation ‘Europe on the Move’ - learning mobility opportunities for all, which aims to make learning mobility opportunities an integral part of all education and training pathways. It proposes new ambitious EU-level targets, including raising the target to 15% of VET students benefiting from learning mobility by 2030, as well as a comprehensive policy framework to support the mobility of apprentices.