EU labour market: covering shortages in skills

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Labour market challenges and the opportunities of labour migration were discussed by the EU economic and social partners in order to tackle these issues. Exchanging views and best practices were needed in regard of a new labour migration platform to formulate most effective measures to attract skilled and talented people to the EU. These policy guidelines will benefit the EU’s economy, strengthen cooperation with non-EU countries and improve perspective migration management.

The process of resolving mounting challenges the EU-27, including massive transformational directions in the new political-economy’s patterns, urgently requires new – and often specific – workforce and skills in such spheres as digitalisation and green transition, circular economy and artificial intelligence, to name a few.
Thousand of specialists with these skills and professions are difficult to prepare within a short period of time; hence the Commission political guidance to attract foreign skilled workers.

Two Commissioners, one for home affairs (Ylva Johansson) and Commissioner for jobs and social rights (Nicolas Schmit) commented on the new labor migration ideas. Thus, Y. Johansson underlined that attracting skilled and talented people from non-EU countries to the EU labour market has become a political and economic priority as numerous companies are in need of workers with required skills. “To be among the winners in the global race for talent, she noted, the EU need to adapt its migration policy”; hence new “labour migration platform” is aimed at analysing best practices in labour migration and make use of the expertise of the migration and employment sectors.
Commissioner N. Schmit noted that the best solution would include “active integration policy” with due efforts in the new platform. The EU will assist the member states in tackling labour shortages in key sectors, including – of course – green and digital transition. At the same time, “the platform” will support people from outside the EU in finding a quality job using acquired skills and learning new skills. “Ensuring fair and decent working conditions for all must remain Commission’s priority in this context” he added.
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Short history
According to division of competence, the EU member states’ governance alone decide on the volumes of migrants they wish to admit; the EU can only assist and support them with practical and operational tools.
Over the past two decades, the EU has developed a legal framework largely harmonising the member states’ rules and conditions of entry and residence for non-EU nationals. Thus an evaluation made in 2019 underlined that more could be done to increase the impact of the EU legal migration framework on the EU’s development.
After a wide public consultation and following two resolutions from the European Parliament in 2021, the Commission presented a set of proposals to facilitate legal migration to the EU with the objective of reducing bureaucracy, strengthening harmonisation, promoting fundamental rights and equal treatment, as well as preventing labour exploitation.
In April 2022, the European Commission adopted the Skills and Talent Package to address current demographic and migration challenges in the member states, as a key pillar of the Pact on Migration and Asylum. A new package’s initiative was the development of a so-called “talent partnership” with non-EU countries, providing better opportunities for non-EU nationals to come to the EU for work or training.
As to the perspective ideas, the EU “talent pool” shall be mentioned to assist jobseekers from non-EU countries find jobs that match their competencies and assist employers to fill their positions with qualified personnel. This ideas highlight progress in the area of labour migration and the success of new initiatives based on closer cooperation and a better understanding between the migration and the employment sectors.
According to the Commission, about 2-3 million third-country’s nationals are coming legally to the EU annually (with about 125-200 hundred thousand irregular and illegal arrivals). Legal migration is essential to the member states growth and economic recovery, to implementing the EU digital and green transitions and to creating safe labor channels to Europe, while reducing irregular migration.
More in the pact on migration & asylum in:

In October 2022, the Commission proposed 2023 as the European Year of Skills, EYS to highlight the need to address labour shortages and the importance of skilled workforce for the European socio-economic development. The EYS is to achieve two goals: a) attracting people from third countries who have the skills that are needed on the EU labour market including by strengthening learning opportunities and mobility, and b) facilitating the recognition of qualifications.

EU labour migration platform
Labor policy is an integral part of growth strategy in European states and around the world. The issues under policy’s analysis in the EU, generally, are: employment and labour law update, overview of the latest policy developments, Commission’s legislative initiatives and case law in this field, as well as recent efforts in making perfect conditions for “external” labour forces, etc.
Main topics in Europe, both managerially and legally are: minimum wages, platform work, European Works Councils, gender equality at work, ESG and corporate sustainability, remote work and working time, CJEU case law, etc.
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The first meeting of the Labour Migration Platform took place in Brussels in the beginning of January 2023; the platform has been set up to advance labour migration from third countries to the EU and to ensure that it is well-managed and targeted to sectors with needed skills. The new platform brings together the Commission and representatives from the EU states specialising in migration and employment policy to foster close cooperation between the two sectors, as well as among the EU states and the EU to support effective actions in legal migration and employment. The launch of the Platform is an initiative of the Skills and Talent Package and will support the objectives and actions of the proposed 2023 Year of Skills.

Attracting labour migration from third countries
It is evident that the EU states are facing labour and skills shortages, for example in the healthcare and information technology sectors. Besides, sufficient skilled workforce is vital for ensuring future competitiveness and progress in European green and digital transition. Current demographic trends in the member states are leading to an ageing and shrinking working population; these shortages will increase in the future. The best and quicker way to deal with this challenge is rely on a well-managed labour migration.
At a recent Labour Migration Platform’s meeting, experts from the member states’ economic and social partners, discussed labour market challenges and the opportunities of labour migration to help tackle these issues. They also exchanged views and best practices regarding the most effective tools to attract skilled and talented people to the EU.
To advance joint efforts, the Commission and the member states are going to use the platform in supporting the EU-wide efforts on legal migration and employment, such as the future EU Talent Pool and EU Talent Partnerships, which are both outlined in the Commission’s Skills and Talent Package.
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The Labour Migration Platform will meet on a regular basis to enhance cooperation and progress in the area of labour migration to the EU. Depending on the topics discussed, relevant experts and organisations will take part, in addition to representatives from the Commission and the member states in order to increase efficiency and learn from best experience.

More information in Commission’s websites: = Skills and Talent Package; = EU Talent Partnerships; = EU Talent Pool pilot initiative; = European Year of Skills


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