European human capital and skills in need of transformation

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Most of present global/European challenges can be solved only by modernising training and education towards newly needed skills and qualifications. The EU member states are advised using “human capital” in a most efficient way; however, while having one of the European strongest labour markets in decades, most companies, and even national governance structures, are in great need of “right workers” with the “right skills”.  

Several recent conferences and forums organized by numerous EU institutions pay attention to the optimal use of “human capital”; and for numerous good reasons. Presently, most countries’ entrepreneurs with new projects, as well as companies with ambitious plans to decarbonise, simply cannot find the professionals with the green or digital skills to assist them in implementation.
Although European states presently are having one of the strongest labour market in decades, at the same time, most companies – and even national governance – are in need of “right workers” as they experience a shortage of “right skills”. Attention to these issues accelerated particularly during last couple of years, specifically after the EU’s programs of post-pandemic recovery and national resilience plans.
As Commission president noted, there is a growing shortage of skilled workers in almost every EU member state, across economic sectors – from manufacturing to services, according to the German Munich-based IFO Institute. For example in construction, which is a pivotal sector for the clean energy transition, nearly 35% of EU firms report impairments due to a shortage of skilled workers.
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2023-the EU Year of Skills
The European Commission has already proposed to make 2023 the European Year of Skills; the idea is to focus the states’ governance attention to the so-called sustainable investment in re-training and reskilling workforce. The Commission underlined that on a EU-wide level, new targets were made to vital issues of up-skilling and made available large amounts of the Union’s funding: nearly €1.5 billion in NextGenerationEU plan and €4.2 billion from the European Social Fund, just to name a few.
However, available funding would not be enough without “sectoral partnerships” aimed at bringing together industry and training providers, as well as employer’s associations and trade unions. These transformations would lead to better matching skilling strategies with the economy’s needs in the national labour markets.
Thus, during the 2023-Skills Year Program, the Commission is going to elaborate the “Pact for Skills”; on an initial stage a dozen of large-scale partnerships would be created offering skilling opportunities to 6 million EU citizens of working age.

The role of education in delivering “green skills”
Universities could and should do more to address the world’s most sustainability, climate and energy challenges; they can excel progress in finding solutions to vital global issues.
At a recent global ranking of universities’ role in resolving pressing challenges, Europe was represented by 292 universities (or about 42% of the ranked universities globally). The University of Edinburgh, occupied in fourth position globally; it is at the top of the European cohort followed by two Swedish universities – in Uppsala and Lund. These two universities were in 11th and 12th positions globally and were joined by Aarhus University of Denmark in the 15th position as the EU’s top three universities.
During last three years, the European Commission formed a number of “alliances” of European universities under the Erasmus+ program. “There is plenty of enthusiasm in the university sector to collaborate, with many institutions seeing the European Universities Initiative (EUI) as a way to enhance their mission and the quality of learning and teaching”, argued University World News. The European Commission reported in July 2022 that there were already 44 European universities alliances involving 340 higher education institutions.
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The United States and Canada dominated the entire rankings, with 135 ranked universities from the US, representing 19.2% of the total, including having 30 American universities among the top 100.
The “environmental impact” of the global ranking has had three performance indicators: institutions, education and research. Thus, sustainable education draws 20% of the weighted points; the “quality” of sustainable institutions’ indicator was weighted at 17.5% and sustainable research at 12.5%. Additional 30 points were devoted to the “social impact metric” with five indicators: equality, knowledge exchange, impact on education, employability and opportunities, as well as quality of life.
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Some positive examples in the EU have been revealed by the Commission President: e.g. about 1500 graduates and workers have already received training in the offshore renewable energy sector; it is particularly vital for the Northern part of Europe, as offshore wind in the Baltic and North Seas has huge sources of “clean power”. It is also important both for the EU-wide energy security (and independence from Russian supplies) and for meeting European climate ambitions and zero-emissions. At the end of the line, the EU citizens are fully aware that in dealing with modern challenges national and European governance will lead to wellbeing and positive changes.
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The EU institutions have identified that huge investment is needed to drive the perspective sustainability trend in national development: i.e. in clean energy, green technology and biodiversity; all these directions to materialize need new skills and qualifications.
It is vital to see that potentials of green innovation and growth are immense; in order to unlock these potentials the member states need to “shake” the entire financial system of national education and skills process towards investments oriented on sustainable growth.
The EU has created the most advanced sustainable finance framework globally; for example, the EU is among the world’s largest issuers of green bonds aimed to finance Europe’s climate-related reforms and investments.
The EU has already issued €28 billion in green bonds; the process is constantly attracting significant over-subscription for all its issuances. “This is a boost not only to Europe’s transition, but to the green bond market itself, as investors will have access to a very liquid green curve over time”, noted Commission President.
As sustainability is more than the “right thing at the right time”: it is also the safest and smartest imaginable investment; “betting on a low-carbon economy, that gives back to nature more than it takes, and reinforces our security, is the most certain economic trend in the coming years and decades”, the President concluded.
General source: opening speech by Commission President at the Sustainable Investment Summit, 28.x.22 at:

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