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European Year of Skills
News article17 August 2023Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion2 min read

​​​​​Supporting skills development through reforms – DG REFORM’s Skills Conference

​​​​​​Under the banner of the European Year of Skills, on May 25 DG REFORM organised a conference in Porto to discuss reforms on skills needed in the EU. The conference showed a broad commitment to advancing the skills agenda in EU Member States, including using the Technical Support Instrument and the creation of synergies with other EU funds and instruments.  

European Year of Skills

Supporting skills reforms in EU Member States 

A wide range of high-level speakers contributed to the discussion on skills, including Elisa Ferreira, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights; Nadia Calviño, First Deputy Prime Minister of Spain; as well as the ministers of labour, employment and education of Portugal and Sweden. Additionally senior officials from various public administrations, EU institutions, international organisations, social partners, and student representatives were present or delivered messages for the conference. The event attracted 145 in-person participants, while around 200 others followed the discussions online.  

The conference identified key reform areas that could be supported by the Technical Support Instrument to ensure that Europe has a skilled workforce, both in the private and public sectors. These areas include reforms addressing labour shortages and skills mismatches, strengthening skills needed for the green and digital transitions and encouraging talent attraction and integration in the labour market. Moreover, there is a need for reforms to equip public administrations with transversal skills to meet current and future challenges, such as demographic changes or the rapid adaptation to technological advancements like AI. 

Key outcomes  

The main take-ways of the panel discussions revolved around several topics: 

  • Skills reforms require inter-ministerial cooperation, as well as the involvement of civil society and social partners.  
  • Skills reforms go hand in hand with the promotion of a lifelong learning mindset in both employers and employees.  
  • Various strategies to incentivise employers and (low skilled) employees to follow training courses can foster these reforms. Adopting a differentiated approach combined with various learning pathways is key to address the needs of different learners.  

Regarding public administrations, the challenge is to make them attractive employers that can recruit, motivate, and retain a talented workforce. Moreover, they should also have the capacity to attract and retain international talents to address skills gaps and shortages. This can be achieved by promoting a smooth recognition of their diplomas and qualifications and facilitating their integration into the labour market.  ​ 

During the conference, participants displayed the added value of various TSI projects, and emphasised their crucial role in designing and implementing upskilling and reskilling actions. They also highlighted the importance of establishing synergies and complementarities with other EU funding and technical support instruments.  

Background information & useful links  

TSI 2024 TSI flagship initiatives on skills: 

Conference's webpage

DG REFORM website