18 November 2021

Skills, innovation & training – Social partners summarise solutions

Social partners joined forces to look closer at how skills, innovation and training can be organised in a context of a green and digital transition.

At the closing conference of the European social partners project, on 18 November, Ceemet Senior Policy Advisor Isabel Sobrino Maté underlined the importance of sectoral social partners as they are closer to the companies’ needs and the workers reality and highlighted what European sectoral social partners have achieved.

Role of social partners

About the role of social partners, Ms Sobrino Maté reminded the audience that employee training is mainly a social partner competence. This responsibility translates into guidance and provision of information on specific types of training, the validation of non-formal/informal learning and the discussion on skills needs and forecast.

She underlined that social partners agree that employee training is a shared responsibility of workers and employers. Workers need to be willing to train and take responsibility for it, where employers have to invest in their workforce.

Recommendations to the EU, Member States and national social partners

As there is a broad agreement on the value adding role of social partners when it comes to re- and up-skill the workforce, Ceemet puts 7 recommendations forward:

  1. Embrace Lifelong Learning (LLL) as it will be crucial for workers to remain employable throughout their career.
  2. Bring the world of education and the world of work closer to each other. The link between Vocational Education and Training (VET) providers and companies needs to be reinforced. At the same time VET and apprenticeships programmes need to be demand-led, practice-oriented, flexible and responsive to labour markets.
  3. Strengthen the cooperation amongst all stakeholders, i.e. companies, public authorities, VET providers, education providers and social partners.
  4. Provide up- and re-skilling programmes that can anticipate and are flexible to adapt to changing skills needs.
  5. Deliver training that is adapted to the needs of companies and workers is important, as is the permeability between different pathways.
  6. Support companies, and in particular SMEs, to identify their immediate and future skills needs. develop right skilling initiatives and provide funding for it.
  7. Care for qualitative apprenticeships if young workers are to be attracted to a career in the industrial sector.

All stakeholders – the EU, Member States and national social partners – need to take their responsibility and act within their field of competence to implement the previously mentioned recommendations into place.

Funding the training

Across the EU various types of training funds exists. While respecting that diversity, it is important to note that funds with an active involvement of social partners tend to be more adapted to labour market needs.

Where training funds are important for the provision of training in SMEs, they are already part of collective bargaining agreements in the Metal, Engineering and Technology-based (MET) industries.

Achievements of sectoral social partners

During her intervention Ms Sobrino Maté paid particular attention to the achievements of Ceemet and its trade union counterpart industriAll Europe. Both organisations have engaged in various projects to address the issues that come forth out of the existing skills needs. Within social dialogue European social partners have:

  • Renewed their pledge to provide qualitative apprenticeships

While the green transition will heavily impact the MET industries by requiring a profound job and skills transformation, it equally presents an opportunity to improve the attractiveness of the sector with young workers wanting to contribute to the greening of the economy. Keeping those workers in the MET industries requires qualitative apprenticeships.

  • Joined the Pacts for Skills

Ceemet and industriAll are part of the Pacts for the automotive and for the aerospace & defence sectors. The automotive sector aims at upskilling 700.000 employees along the automotive ecosystem over the next years. The aerospace & defence sector commits to upskill around 200,000 employees in next 5 years. Social partners bring in their expertise and network at national, regional, local and company level.

  • Worked on a joint position on Continuous Vocational Education and Training (CVET)

Social partners play a key role for CVET to be meaningful as it requires the commitment of workers and employers. In the position that has to be adopted yet, social partners will call for funding to strengthen CVET.

  • Joined the Coalition for a Just Transition for the automotive sector

By contributing to the mapping of the employment impact at company, regional and national level, social partners help to shape the transition planning. These transition plans will eventually strengthen social dialogue through binding social conditionality on access to EU funds. The Just Transition Coalition equally serves as a platform where policy and best practices are exchanged.

Isabel Sobrino Maté concluded by stating:

“The track record of social partner achievements is impressive. This is because European sectoral social partners are jointly working towards a right skilled workforce that has access to the training schemes they need.”