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The green and digital transitions are opening up new opportunities for people and the EU economy. Having the relevant skills empowers people to successfully navigate labour market changes and to fully engage in society and democracy. This will ensure that nobody is left behind and the economic recovery as well as the green and digital transitions are socially fair and just. A workforce with the skills that are in demand also contributes to sustainable growth, leads to more innovation and improves companies' competitiveness.

However, currently 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. The Digital Economy and Society Index shows that 4 out of 10 adults and every third person who works in Europe lack basic digital skills. In addition, already 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. There is also low representation of women in tech-related professions and studies, with only 1 in 6 IT specialists and 1 in 3 STEM graduates being women.

To encourage lifelong learning, Member States have endorsed the EU 2030 social targets that at least 60% of adults should participate in training every year, already presenting their national contribution to meeting this target. This is also important to reach the employment rate target of at least 78% by 2030. The 2030 Digital Compass sets the EU target that by 2030, at least 80% of all adults should have at least basic digital skills, and there should be 20 million employed ICT specialists in the EU, while more women should be encouraged to take up such jobs.

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EU funding for skills

Significant EU funding and technical support is available to support Member States' investment in upskilling and reskilling, including:

The European Social Fund Plus (ESF+) with a budget of more than €99 billion for 2021-2027 is the EU's main instrument for investing in people.

The Recovery and Resilience Facility can support Member States' reforms and investments, including in the area of skills and jobs. In the national recovery and resilience plans endorsed by the Commission and the Council so far, around 20% of the social expenditure is dedicated to “employment and skills”.

The Digital Europe Programme's €580 million for development of advanced digital skills. It provides strategic funding and, among others, it supports the development of a skilled talent pool of digital experts, while at the same time enhancing cooperation between EU Member States and stakeholders in digital skills and jobs.

Horizon Europe underpins skills for researchers, entrepreneurs and innovators notably through its Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, the European Innovation Council and the European Institute for Technology.

Erasmus+ with a budget €26.2 billion supports, amongst others, the personal and professional development of learners, staff and institutions in vocational education and training through funding mobility activities and partnerships for cooperation across Europe. It also funds European Universities which are pioneering the development of micro-credentials for training, up-skilling and re-skilling.

Additional programmes that can support skills development include the InvestEU programme, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for displaced workers, the European Regional Development Fund, the Just Transition Fund, the European Solidarity Corps, the Programme for Environment and climate action (LIFE), the Modernisation Fund, the Technical Support Instrument, and the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument.


Developing skills is of utmost importance for the European Union (EU) as it enables individuals to contribute to society, helps businesses to be competitive and innovative, and supports economic growth and social cohesion. A highly skilled workforce is critical for meeting the evolving needs of the labor market, which is increasingly driven by digitalization, automation, and globalization. Additionally, developing skills is essential for promoting social inclusion and reducing inequalities, as it provides opportunities for individuals to access better jobs, higher salaries, and improved living standards. The EU has recognized the importance of developing skills and has implemented several initiatives and policies to support lifelong learning and skills development, including the European Year of Skills 2023. The EU has also set ambitious targets for increasing the participation of adults in lifelong learning and for reducing the number of people with low levels of education and skills. These efforts are crucial for ensuring that the EU remains competitive and resilient in a rapidly changing world, and that all individuals have the opportunity to fulfill their potential and contribute to society.

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The European Year of Skills initiative is focusing on several key themes that are critical to the development of skills and competencies in Europe


President von der Leyen proposed in her 2022 State of the Union address to make 2023 the European Year of Skills to strengthen our competitiveness, better focus our investments, cooperate with companies and match these needs with people's aspirations as well as attract talents to our continent. The proposal for a European Year of Skills is also listed in the State of the Union Letter of Intent as an initiative for 2023.


20 million


Of EU companies report difficulties in finding workers with the necessary skills

ICT specialists should be employed in the EU by 2030

Of adults should participate in training every year by 2030

Banana and Rolling Pin

Main Objectives


Promote skills development and lifelong learning: The initiative aims to raise awareness of the importance of skills development and lifelong learning, and encourage individuals to take an active role in their own skills development.

Address skills shortages: The European Year of Skills seeks to address skills shortages, particularly in key areas such as digital skills, green skills, and entrepreneurship, by promoting the development of relevant skills and competencies.



Improve access to training and education: The initiative aims to improve access to training and education, especially for those who face barriers to participation, such as women, youth, and people with disabilities.

Banana and Rolling Pin


Enhance employability: The European Year of Skills seeks to enhance employability by improving the quality and relevance of education and training, and promoting the recognition of skills and qualifications across Europe.


Boost innovation and productivity: The initiative aims to boost innovation and productivity by supporting the development of skills that are critical to the success of businesses and industries, such as digital skills and entrepreneurship.


Contribute to economic growth and social cohesion: The European Year of Skills seeks to contribute to economic growth and social cohesion by promoting skills development as a key driver of prosperity and social progress in Europe.

The European Year of Skills – boosting competitiveness, participation and talent

With the European Year of Skills, in cooperation with the European Parliament, Member States, social partners, public and private employment services, chambers of commerce and industry, education and training providers, and workers and companies all together, the Commission proposes to give a fresh impetus to lifelong learning by: Promoting increased, and more effective and inclusive investment in training and upskilling to harness the full potential of the European workforce, and to support people in changing from one job to another. Making sure that skills are relevant for labour market needs, by also cooperating with social partners and companies. Matching people's aspirations and skill sets with opportunities on the job market, especially for the green and digital transition and the economic recovery. A special focus will be given to activate more people for the labour market, in particular women and young people, especially those not in education, employment or training. Attracting people from third countries with the skills needed by the EU, including by strengthening learning opportunities and mobility and facilitating the recognition of qualifications. To meet these objectives, the Commission will promote upskilling and reskilling opportunities, for instance by highlighting relevant EU initiatives, including EU funding possibilities, to support their take-up, implementation and delivery on the ground. Events and awareness-raising campaigns will also be organised across the EU to support mutual learning of partners in up- and reskilling. The proposed Year also aims to help to further develop skills intelligence tools and promote tools and instruments for increased transparency and easier recognition of qualifications, including qualifications awarded outside the EU. To ensure the coordination of relevant activities at national level, the Commission calls on Member States to appoint a national coordinator for the European Year of Skills.

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Participating in the European Year of Skills can bring a range of benefits to individuals, businesses, and organizations in Europe. Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Enhancing skills and competencies: Participating in the European Year of Skills can provide individuals with access to training, education, and upskilling opportunities, enabling them to enhance their skills and competencies and remain competitive in the labor market.

  2. Networking and collaboration: The European Year of Skills provides opportunities for networking and collaboration with other individuals, businesses, and organizations across Europe, which can lead to new partnerships, collaborations, and business opportunities.

  3. Access to funding and resources: Participating in the European Year of Skills can provide access to funding and resources for training, education, and skills development initiatives, which can be particularly beneficial for small and medium-sized enterprises.

  4. Improved employability: Enhancing skills and competencies can improve employability and job prospects, enabling individuals to secure better-paying jobs or pursue new career paths.

  5. Supporting business growth and innovation: Developing skills and competencies can support business growth and innovation by enabling businesses to innovate, improve productivity, and compete more effectively in the global marketplace.

  6. Contribution to sustainable development: Developing green skills and competencies can contribute to sustainable development by enabling businesses to transition to a more sustainable and circular economy, which is crucial for addressing environmental challenges.

Overall, participating in the European Year of Skills can bring a range of benefits to individuals, businesses, and organizations, and contribute to the development of a skilled and competitive workforce in Europe.

EU initiatives to support skills development

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For the European Year of Skills, we can build on the many EU initiatives already ongoing to support skills and increase their take-up, including:

European Skills Agenda

The European Skills Agenda is the framework for EU skills policy cooperation and will continue to help individuals and businesses develop more and better skills and to apply them. As part of the Skills Agenda, under the Pact for Skills so far, more than 700 organisations have signed up and 12 large-scale partnerships in strategic sectors have been set up with pledges to help upskill up to 6 million people.

New European Innovation Agenda

The New European Innovation Agenda, adopted in July, proposes a flagship initiative and set of actions to create the right framework conditions for our talents.

EU Talent Pool

The Commission has also proposed new initiatives to address EU skills shortages and improve migration cooperation. The roll-out of an EU Talent Pool and of Talent Partnerships with selected third partners will help match the skills of candidates to work in Europe with labour market needs. This is a key deliverable under the New Pact on Migration and Asylum.

The European strategy for universities

The European strategy for universities, adopted in January, proposes a series of 50 actions that are key to develop high level and future-proof skills for a wide range of learners, including lifelong learners, for them to become creative and critical thinkers, problem solvers and active and responsible citizens.

The European Digital Skills and Jobs Platform

The European Digital Skills and Jobs Platform is an initiative launched under the Connecting Europe Facility Programme. It offers information and resources on digital skills such as a digital skills self-assessment tool, as well as training and funding opportunities.

The EU Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition

The EU Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition tackles the digital skills gap by bringing together Member States, social partners, companies, non-profit organisations and education providers to raise awareness and encourage organisations to take different actions to encourage digital skills training such as taking a pledge to boost digital skills.


There are several ways in which individuals, businesses, and organizations can participate in the European Year of Skills 2023: Attend events and activities: Individuals can participate in the various events and activities organized as part of the European Year of Skills, such as skills competitions, workshops, seminars, and career fairs. Engage in skills development: Individuals can engage in skills development activities, such as training, education, apprenticeships, and upskilling programs, to enhance their skills and competencies. Promote skills development: Businesses and organizations can promote skills development by providing training and education opportunities for their employees, and by partnering with educational institutions and training providers to develop new programs. Share best practices: Businesses and organizations can share best practices and success stories related to skills development through online communities, social media, and other channels. Advocate for policy change: Businesses, organizations, and individuals can advocate for policy change at the local, national, and European levels to support skills development and lifelong learning. Contribute to research and innovation: Businesses and organizations can contribute to research and innovation related to skills development, by participating in research projects, developing new technologies, and promoting innovation in the workplace. Support awareness campaigns: Individuals, businesses, and organizations can support awareness campaigns aimed at promoting the importance of skills development and lifelong learning, by sharing information and resources, and by organizing their own events and activities. Overall, there are many ways to participate in the European Year of Skills 2023, and everyone can contribute to promoting and supporting skills development and lifelong learning in Europe.

The European Year of Skills 2023 will involve a range of activities and events throughout the year, aimed at promoting and supporting skills development and lifelong learning across Europe. Here are some examples of activities and events that are being organized:

Here are some examples of activities and events that are being organized:

Skills competitions: A series of skills competitions will be organized at regional, national, and European levels, showcasing the skills and competencies of young people and professionals in various fields.

Training and education initiatives: A range of training and education initiatives will be organized, including upskilling and reskilling programs, vocational training, and apprenticeships.

Workshops and seminars: Workshops and seminars will be organized to discuss key issues related to skills development, such as digital skills, green skills, and entrepreneurship.

Career fairs and job placements: Career fairs and job placements will be organized to connect job seekers with employers and to promote the development of skills that are in demand in the labor market.

Awareness campaigns: Awareness campaigns will be organized to promote the importance of skills development and lifelong learning, and to encourage individuals to take advantage of the opportunities available to them.

Online resources: A range of online resources will be developed, including e-learning modules, digital tools for skills assessment and recognition, and online communities for sharing best practices and networking.

Policy dialogues: Policy dialogues will be organized to bring together stakeholders from the public and private sectors to discuss key issues related to skills development and to identify policy solutions.


Here are some relevant websites related to the European Year of Skills 2023:

  1. Official website of the European Commission - European Year of Skills 2023:

  2. European Training Foundation - European Year of Skills 2023:

  3. European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training - European Year of Skills 2023:

  4. European Union Skills Panorama - European Year of Skills 2023:

  5. Eurofound - European Year of Skills 2023:

Reports and Publications:

  1. European Year of Skills:

  2. European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training - "European skills index 2020":

  3. European Union Skills Panorama - "Skills governance in the EU: a multi-level and multi-stakeholder approach":

  4. European Training Foundation - "Future skills in Europe: scenarios for 2030":

  5. European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education - "Key competences for lifelong learning: a European reference framework":

  6. Cedefop (2020).European skills index 2020: key indicators for skills and labour market analysis in the EU

These websites provide information, resources, and updates related to the European Year of Skills 2023, including events and activities, policy initiatives, best practices, and research on skills development and lifelong learning in Europe.

Most significant statements from the European Commission and the European Parliament related to the topic

These statements reflect the commitment of the European Commission and the European Parliament to promoting skills development and lifelong learning as a means of promoting economic and social progress in Europe. They also highlight the importance of collaboration and dialogue between different stakeholders, including governments, businesses, and civil society organizations, in addressing the challenges and opportunities associated with skills development.

We need much more focus in our investment on professional education and upskilling. We need better cooperation with companies, because they know best what they need. And we need to match these needs with people's aspirations. But we also have to attract the right skills to our continent, skills that help companies and strengthen Europe's growth.

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission

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