Science & Technology

Lack of professional skills threatens European competitiveness

Brussels, Jun 8 (EFE).- Climate change and energy transition have become two of the top global priorities, with the European Union (EU) ready to lead the race for carbon neutrality that, however, will only come if workers have the right skills, political and employer representatives warn.

The European Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, said Thursday at a conference that “Europe is running out of qualified personnel” and called for the retraining of European workers to boost the technology sector and transform its industry.

Schmit assured that, even though information and communication technology (ICT) is “key” for the future, there are not enough specialists: “There are 70,000 vacancies in ICT alone and there is nobody,” he said.

On the other hand, in another event organized in the framework of the EU Green Week, MEPs and representatives of the European Commission and the private sector stressed the lack of qualified European workers, which, they said, threatens the transition to a green economy.

Joao Albuquerque, MEP for the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, stressed the need for “strong capacity and interconnectedness” to address “labor market shortages” and ensure that people are prepared to meet the needs of the labor market.

Albuquerque advocated for training workers and, to this end, considered necessary a “strong investment” by member states and a public-private partnership to ensure that socioeconomic inequalities do not prevent “access to training” for citizens.

The European Commission designated 2023 as the European Year of Skills to improve the capabilities and promote the retraining of EU citizens, with the aim of making the digital and ecological transition “socially fair and just.”

Along these lines, Huawei Vice President of Public Affairs and Communication for Europe, Selina Wen, assured that programs for “retraining and upgrading” skills are “urgently” needed so that employees can “respond to the new requirements.”

“The goals of the digital, ecological, and energy transition are increasingly ambitious, and the skills gap between supply and demand risks widening,” said Wen, calling on stakeholders to unite and invest in skills to accelerate the climate-neutral agenda.

Ilias Iakovidis, a European Commission representative, pointed out that 59% of companies lack the necessary personnel to invest in ecological transition and 60% of municipalities state that they do not have the necessary workers and skills to invest in climate action.

He also pointed out that 50% of young people under 30 years of age “do not trust that their skills are relevant for a decent job in the future.”

For this reason, the delegate to the EU of the Spanish employers’ association CEOE, Isabel Yglesias, stated that political decisions have to be decided and implemented “in close connection with the social stakeholders and companies” since, she said, “they are the ones who know best how to implement training” and “what the needs of the different companies are.”

Yglesias stressed that the European debate has to focus on training as “it is a key element to improve European competitiveness,” and at the center of the search for European strategic autonomy.

“There is no Europe without a resilient workforce that can support the resurgence of European competitiveness,” she said. EFE


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