Priorities given by the New Skills Agenda, defining VET as a first choice

On June 10th, 2016, the European Commission issued the new Skills Agenda for Europe. The Agenda focuses on 10 important actions to help enhance training, skills, and the support that is available to people in Europe.

These 10 actions described in the Agenda are designed to:

  1. improve the quality and relevance of training and other ways of acquiring skills
  2. make skills more visible and comparable
  3. improve information and understanding of trends and patterns in demands for skills and jobs (skills intelligence) to enable people to make better career choices, find quality jobs, and improve their life chances.

The Council and the Parliament have agreed and these actions are being implemented. The current aim is to help people in communities all over Europe to enhance and advance their skills and competencies.

Since the launch of these actions, the Commission urges EU countries, employers’ associations, trade unions, industries, and many other interested parties to go on working together aiming to endure that these actions will continue to produce the best possible results.

A quick look at the actions

The Council adopted the Recommendation on upskilling pathways: new opportunities for adults in December 2016. The Commission is now working with EU countries and other interested parties to implement the recommendation, helping low-skilled adults acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy, and digital skills and/or acquire a broader set of skills by progressing towards an upper secondary qualification or equivalent.

European Qualifications Framework

The Council adopted the revised European Qualifications Framework and the related annexes in May 2017. The Commission is now working with EU countries and other interested parties to implement the new recommendation to support a better understanding of qualifications and make better use of all available skills in the European labor market.

Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition

The Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition to support cooperation among education, employment, and industry stakeholders was launched in December 2016 to improve the digital skills of the wider population, not just IT professionals. 23 national Digital Skills and Jobs Coalitions are already in place and 100 organizations have pledged action towards providing digital skills.

Blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills

The blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills to improve skills intelligence and address skills shortages in specific economic sectors was launched in January 2017. So far, projects have begun in fifteen sectors. These focus on emerging sectors like additive manufacturing (3D printing) or batteries for electro-mobility as well as traditional sectors experiencing significant changes in the skills needed, like the steel industry or construction. A further six sectors will be added in 2020.

EU skills profile tool for third-country nationals

An EU skills profile tool for third-country nationals to support early identification of skills of asylum seekers, refugees, and other migrants was launched at a stakeholders’ conference in June 2017. The tool is now available in all EU languages (except Irish) and in Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, Sorani, Somali, Tigrinya, and Turkish.

Vocational education and training (VET)

The Commission is continuing to work on a set of measures to support the modernization of vocational education and training (VET), in line with the policy priorities defined in the 2015 Riga Conclusions. A series of events and activities within the European Vocational Skills Week aims to make VET a first choice.

Key competences

The Council adopted the revised Recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning in May 2018 setting out a core set of skills necessary to work and live in the 21st century.


The European Parliament and the Council agreed in April 2018 a revised decision on Europass – the common framework for the provision of better services for skills and qualifications. The new Europass Framework will offer people better tools to present their skills and obtain useful real-time information on skills needs and trends which can help with career and learning choices.

Graduate tracking

The Council agreed on a Recommendation on graduate tracking to improve understanding of graduates’ performance after their education and training experiences.

Analyzing and sharing of best practice on brain flows

The Commission published an independent study analyzing brain drain within Europe and organized peer learning between countries and experts in this field. This peer learning sought to identify policies and measures to manage this phenomenon and led to a repository of practices from around Europe.

Following the priorities of the New Agenda focusing on VET and the enhancement and support of professional development, IED along with an experienced consortium of partners is currently implementing the InnoTrain project– Innovative Training in VET, Professional development of VET-business key actors for qualitative WBL experiences.

The InnoTrain Project

The project is aiming at creating transferable results to upgrade professional competences of practitioners that are daily involved in VET and WBL programmes. One of the most important objectives of the programme is to pinpoint the qualitative growth of high-quality skills and competences.

The project also intends to investigate and develop new strategies for effective VET-business cooperation structures involving complementary local stakeholders, but with an outlook at exploitation in other EU regions.

You can stay tuned with IED’s news, for more information about the Innotrain project as well as all the upcoming deliverables in the field of VET and WBL. Our promising results will be available to all interested parties for free!

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Maria Dalakoura
Senior Project Manager

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