Eight months ago, President’s von der Leyen announced that 2023 will be the European Year of Skills (EYS). On 9 May, the momentous Europe Day, the starting signal was given for a year in which the EU institutions will focus on skills development across the Union. The Lifelong Learning Platform welcomes this initiative but draws attention to the need to uphold the values of the EU and take decisive action to achieve lifelong learning for the personal and professional development and participation of all in society. The following shortcomings suggest that more needs to be done to achieve this:
- Only 54% of adults aged 16-74 have basic digital skills
- Only 10.8% of people aged 25-64 engaged in training
- Sustainability learning lacks a structural approach across education and training systems
- Almost 10% of pupils were qualified as early leavers
- Almost 23% of learners underachieve in literacy, mathematics and science
These occur as the climate crisis, the unpredictability of disruptive technology, the commodification of education, the lowering participation in democratic processes, the attacks on civil society threaten the societal fabric. While lifelong learning is a necessity in the face of such challenges, the finalised EYS resolution as well as the Trilogue negotiations narrowed the Year’s focus to labour market needs. Choosing to provide ICT specialists and green sector experts that can support businesses to adapt to the twin transitions represents a small part of what learners and societies need right now to tackle the wide diversity of challenges.