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SMEunited welcomes the new European Skills Agenda

01 July 2020
by smeunited -- last modified 01 July 2020

With the new Skills Agenda, the European Commission acknowledges that there is a political momentum for a new approach to skills. SMEunited fully shares the view that it is time for stepping up investment in people's skills. More than ever we all need to use the tools and funds at disposal to boost education, training and skills development.


"I am pleased to see that SMEs have been heard when asking for support to boost skills acquisition aligned with very rapidly changing labour market needs", said Alban Maggiar, President of SMEunited.

Continuing his first reaction, he stated: "SMEunited is looking forward to a renewed effort at European level which contributes to tackle skills mismatches and shortages. Efforts are required in equipping all citizens with robust basic, digital and green skills for rapidly changing labour markets. The new Skills Agenda should further promote VET and apprenticeship. Proposing direct subsidies for apprentices in SMEs is a strong recognition of the role of SMEs in VET and also a great support for boosting apprenticeship despite the COVID-19 crisis".

SMEs still report difficulties to recruit staff with skills adapted to their needs. This is why they invest in work-based learning and apprenticeship. They are the best means to train people on the job and to ensure smooth transitions from school to work. All employers look at digital skills as a must since digitalisation of work is accelerating in all sectors. It concerns youngsters and also adults who need up-skilling or reskilling to be fit to access and progress in the labour market.

The flagships announced by the Commission are the right ones, according to President Maggiar. Especially the European Pact for Skills to be launched later this year involving social partners and a European framework on micro-credentials, which should make learning paths more flexible. Additionally, SMEunited appreciates the new Council Recommendation on VET to implement reforms, to support the green and digital transition and promote VET as an attractive choice.

Finally, ensuring investments for education and training is a strategic objective. It should be a joint responsibility at EU and national level and among employers, individuals and public authorities. SMEunited appreciates the future debate on how companies' expenditure on skills can be reflected as investment and not only as costs.

SMEunited, formally known as UEAPME, is the association of crafts and SMEs in Europe with around 70 member organisations from over 30 European countries. SMEunited is a recognised employers' organisation and European Social Partner and acts on behalf of crafts and SMEs in the European Social Dialogue and in discussions with the EU institutions.

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