Recent EU analysis has shown the European member states and even whole regions are affected by the loss of skilled workforce to deal with modern transforming national priorities. The aggravated situation seriously threatens the European regional long-term prosperity: the EU has already identified 82 regions representing together about 30 percent (one third!) of the EU’s total population.
Besides contemporary challenges (like climate change, sustainability, circular economy, efficient and renewable energy, etc.) some demographic issues also hamper employment: during 2015-2020, the working age population in the EU has decreased by 2.5 million persons; further decline with about 35 million persons is expected by 2050. This situation presents an enormous challenge for the member states’ governance as it means that some countries (and even whole regions) do not have sufficient skilled and educated workers to address emerging challenges. The latter are also including quickly changing requirements of specialists and needed skills, which is accelerated by inadequate education and training systems in the member states.
The Commission communication shows the important and tangible demographic changes in Europe which have become relevant factors in all EU-wide and national policies.
Two European regions with serious problems
The EU’s calculation has divided these 82 regions in two categories, i.e. in the first group there are 46 regions that account for 16 percent of the EU’s population. This group faces a rapid decline of their working age population and a low share of university graduates, which makes it difficult for these regions to innovate and improve their productivity.
The second group, which consists of 36 regions, is acutely affected by the loss of their younger population (aged 15-39); this group accounts for another 13 percent of the EU-wide population.
Both groups face specific structural challenges, such as: a) inefficiencies in their labour market; b) inadequate training and adult-learning systems; c) low performance in the areas of innovation, public governance or business development; and d) low access to essential public services.
Most EU member states do not approve adequate measures to mitigate the negative trends, in order to provide for sufficient amount of qualified workforce and appropriately skilled and educated workers to mitigate the impact of population decline and aging population.
As soon as the European education and training policy is within the competence of the member states, the EU institutions can only supplement and coordinate the national efforts. For example, through recommendations to “equip the states” with effective policy directions to face emerging challenges through higher productivity, more innovation and training workers with the right skills; i.e. proposing a “talent booster mechanisms”.
The purpose of this mechanism is to very concrete assisting measures to unleash the talents of these regions. The EU institutions will support the states governance in training, retaining and attracting people, providing skills and competences needed to meet the new challenges of the demographic transition.
Several Commissioners take part in formulating this mechanism, which will work together with the cohesion policy rationale behind this communication.
It is to be mentioned that the Commission has nominated 2023 the European year of skills, the initiative that supposed to accelerate the process of preparing necessary specialists.
Source and reference to: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/SPEECH_23_251