The World Employment Confederation-Europe welcome the European Skills Agenda put forward in July 2020 and stands ready to deploy its expertise to help individuals and businesses develop more and better skills and to put them to use. Through its agency work and career management segments, the private employment services industry can play a pivotal role in recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.
Published on 24th September 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has in many ways accelerated and reinforced the needs for upskilling and reskilling of workers. Some need it to transition from a sector strongly affected to a sector in high demand of labour; others must learn to use the digital tools enabling remote working; all should develop soft skills such as resilience and adaptability to adjust to an increasingly volatile work.
The private employment services industry is for long aware of the crucial role that skilling plays in employability and how essential it will be for recovery from the Covid-19 crisis. The sector upskills more than 854,000 agency workers in Europe, many of these being young and/or first-time labour market entrants. Through the career management segment, the private employment services industry facilitates the transition of 3 million workers every year, notably through the provision of skilling and guidance.
The World Employment Confederation-Europe therefore welcomes the European Skills Agenda put forward by the European Commission in July 2020. This strategy aims to help individuals and businesses develop more and better skills and to put them to use. It comprises 12 actions and sets quantifiable objectives such as having 50% of adults aged 25-64 years old participating in a learning experience during the past year.
“The Commission rightly acknowledges the key role that our sector plays in strengthening skills intelligence. We are uniquely placed in the labour market to assess the evolution of labour markets and skills needs,” says Michael Freytag, Public Affairs Manager at the World Employment Confederation-Europe. “But the private employment services sector has also the capability to train, guide and get workers from one job opportunity to another, using training funds, apprenticeships and dual learning systems and job matching.”
Particularly relevant for the members of the World Employment Confederation-Europe are for example the Commission’s proposed actions on vocational education and training (action 4), skills that support transitions (action 6), the focus to enhance STEM and transversal skills (action 7), actions to foster adult learning and skills for life (action 8) and individual learning accounts (action 9).
“Unlocking investments to make the European Skills Agenda happen is fundamental,” adds Freytag. “In the current economic context marked by the deep recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to provide financial incentives and support to foster the investment in skills and employability.” The World Employment Confederation-Europe also insists on the need for the European Skills Agenda to be built on the principle of subsidiarity and proportionality. Actions at European level should be developed in close cooperation with national, regional and local authorities and involve social partners at the appropriate levels.
Read more in WEC-Europe’s position paper.
The World Employment Confederation-Europe and UNI-Europa, as EU Social Partners for the Temporary Agency Work sector, are conducting a joint research project on Social Innovation practices implemented to improve training, social protection and working conditions of agency workers. The findings will be presented in December 2020.
Aspects of skills enhancement, training and the allocation role of the temporary agency work industry were already highlighted in Joint Recommendations adopted by WEC-Europe and UNI-Europa in reaction to the Covid-19 crisis.