In a fast-changing world, EU must invest in changing skills

Written by Alastair Macphail on 19 July 2017 in Opinion Plus
Opinion Plus

Investing in people and skills helps create jobs, economic growth and sustainable wellbeing, explains Alastair Macphail.

In a fast-changing world, EU must invest in changing skills | Photo credit: Fotolia

In the fast-changing world of work, people need a broad set of skills and adaptability to fulfil their potential. Investing in people and skills helps create jobs, economic growth and sustainable wellbeing. 

'Changing Skills for a Changing World' was the theme of our recent international conference held in Turin on 7-8 June 2017.

This brought together ministers, vocational education and training (VET) practitioners, social partners, labour market experts, business leaders, young innovators and international organisations, to discuss the key role of skills VET in the changing world of work. The conference concluded the fourth round of the Torino process, our flagship evidence-based policy analysis tool for human capital development in our partner countries.


"We need the skills of people to keep pace with the fast-changing world," Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility, said in her keynote address. Highlighting the importance of investing in people as a cornerstone for the future, she detailed the New Skills Agenda for Europe, which sets out concrete actions to boost human capital development and employability.

The European Commission's blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills "puts together actors who might otherwise not find themselves in the same room - to work on practical and forward-looking shared solutions," she said, addressing the 300+ crowd, representing 50 countries.

Aleksandre Jejelava, Georgia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of education and science, said public policy must follow life, not the other way around. "We have to be braver about changing things - we still treat education like a factory system."

Committee of the Regions President Markku Markkula said there is "a dire need for continuing training and innovation, for constantly reinventing the teaching and learning processes, especially in the context of the digital turn."

The Ideas Market featured projects by young innovators like Keren Or Kadosh from Israel who, through the vocational Amal School Network, created a drone that carries a replaceable first aid kit. 

It also featured a project by Arman Toskanbaev, a young serial entrepreneur whose latest endeavour ensures plants and vegetables can grow all year round in the harsh climate of Kazakhstan. 

The Torino process helps to promote entrepreneurship as a key competence. After touring the Ideas Market, Commissioner Thyssen underlined the value of the ETF's work with Europe's neighbours. "The ETF and the Torino process open the door to practical cooperation," she said.

Commissioner Thyssen used the opportunity to launch the ETF competition for training providers in partner countries that promote entrepreneurial learning. The winner will be announced at Vocational Skills Week, 20-24 November 2017.

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About the author

Alastair Macphail is Head of communication at the European Training Foundation

The European Training Foundation (ETF) is an agency of the  European Union that helps countries neighbouring the EU make the most of their human capital through reform of education, training and labour market systems in the context of the EU's external relations policies. Based in Turin, Italy, the ETF has been operational since 1994.



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