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2023 named ‘European Year of Skills’

Photo of a person in the middle distance who is seated at a desk working. He is wearing protective eye glasses and studying data which we can see displayed on two large computer screens in front of him. He also has a laptop in front of him. In the foreground of the photo, the edges of a large mechanical device with wires exposed is visible.

The European Commission has signalled a renewed focus on increasing investment in training and upskilling of the European workforce in order to strengthen social and economic resilience.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen announced plans for 2023 to become the ‘European Year of Skills’ during her recent State of the Union Address (SOTEU).

Speaking to Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, von der Leyen said: “The lack of staff is a challenge for Europe’s companies. We must invest much more in training and further education. This is why I am proposing to make 2023 the European Year of Skills.”

Underpinned by a raft of policies and funding opportunities for education programmes, especially in digital and green skills, the European Year of Skills will also strive to promote social fairness to ensure that no one is left behind in the economic recovery.

A flagship event during the Year will be EuroSkills Gdańsk 2023, the eighth edition of the European “Skills Olympics” competition for young professionals.

More than three quarters of companies in the EU report difficulties in finding workers with the necessary skills, and latest figures from Eurostat suggest that only 37% of adults undertake training on a regular basis.

In addition, in 2021, 28 occupations ranging from construction and healthcare to engineering and IT had shortages, showing a growing demand for both high and low-skilled workers.

European Union Member States have already endorsed the EU’s 2030 social targets that at least 60% of adults should participate in training every year.

Time to tackle the digital skills gap

The Commission also highlighted the importance of ensuring all workers in Europe are equipped with the skills needed to embrace the green and digital transition.

Photo of a person sat at a desk working with two computer screens.

However, the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) shows that currently 4 out of 10 working adults in Europe still lack basic digital skills.

President von der Leyen emphasised that training investment therefore needs “careful knowledge of what staff are needed and how we can fill those vacancies.” She referred to the DIGITAL Europe Programme, which will fund new Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in key technology areas, as a key initiative to address the issue.

‘Skills Olympics’ to encourage competitiveness

EuroSkills Gdańsk 2023, organised by WorldSkills Europe, will be a flagship event during the European Year of Skills.

EuroSkills Competitions, held each two years, bring together hundreds of young professionals from across the continent, who compete for the chance to become the Best in Europe in their chosen skill.

600 young professionals from 32 countries will head EuroSkills Gdańsk 2023 to showcase expertise in 40 different skills and trades. Skills featured range from bakery to web development, from joinery to welding, and from architectural stonemasonry to mechatronics.

At the event, competitors are challenged to complete a test project or series of projects within strict timeframes over the course of three days. Each project demands complex technical knowledge and capabilities that the young people are learning and mastering through their studies and workplace training.

Large group of young people gathered on a stage, all wearing medals, and all smiling or waving their hands in the air. Behind them on a screen is the logo for EuroSkills Gdańsk 2023

Around 100,000 visitors from across Poland and abroad are expected to attend EuroSkills Gdańsk 2023. 

Visitors will be able to watch competitors in action and also try hands-on job-related activities at the many ‘Try-a-Skill’ demonstrations that will be offered.

Organisers want EuroSkills to inspire the tens of thousands of young people who visit to turn their passions into a skilled profession.

A meeting place for educators, industry, and governments to compare best practices

EuroSkills also provides an opportunity for leaders in industry, government, and education from across the continent to exchange knowledge and best practices in current and emerging professional education programmes.

EuroSkills Gdańsk 2023 is scheduled for 5 to 9 September 2023 at AmberExpo and Polsat Plus Arena in Gdańsk, Poland. The event is being organised with support from the European Social Fund under the Knowledge Education Development Operational Programme.

Find out more about EuroSkills Gdańsk 2023 at euroskills2023.org.


Image credits: First and second images Copyright ©️ WorldSkills International. Final image Copyright ©️ WorldSkills Poland (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs).

tom.york@campaigncollective.org

Member of Campaign Collective, Social Media Editor of The Rooftop, and Rooftop TV host. Passionate campaigner for LGBTQI+ rights and mental health issues.