25 November 2021

No time to waste! Metal sector social partners urge boosting continued Vocational Education and Training

Ceemet – European Tech & Industry Employers – and industriAll European Trade Union repeat their warning that the Metal, Engineering and Technology-based (MET) industries face one of the greatest skills challenges in modern times.

The social partners, who are involved in many of the EU initiatives on skills at EU level, have commonly identified the preconditions for the success of these initiatives.

Need for re- and up-skilling

The twin green and digital transitions, further accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis, are confronting MET companies and workers with a change of an unprecedented pace and scale. And yet, despite the massive need for re- and upskilling, only a minority of adult workers engage in training!

The EU set ambitious targets to remedy an otherwise growing skills gap. By 2025, 50% of the adult population (25-64 years) should participate in learning every year. The aim is to raise this figure to at least 60% of all adults by 2030, according to the objectives set in the European Pillar of Social Rights. Unprecedented efforts have been made to increase the opportunities and amount of EU funding available for skills development across Europe.

IndustriAll Europe and Ceemet welcome these new EU objectives. Quality continued Vocational Education and training (CVET) throughout the career promotes future-proof occupational pathways and job-to-job transitions. It can provide a robust and relevant skills base in the MET industries. However, EU initiatives risk falling short of their objectives if they are not accompanied by three elements, which industriAll Europe, Ceemet and their member organisations see as priorities and have identified in their recent joint position (below):

  1. an enabling framework which secures proportionate levels of funding and an access to training for all workers. Social partners must be actively involved in the design and implementation of national skills strategies which should be accompanied by sound industrial and employment policies.
  2. strategic skills policies which match the needs of sectors, companies and workers, and rely on a close cooperation between VET providers and the industry.
  3. attractive and quality training all along the career, where innovative and flexible ways of delivering trainings are further developed, while ensuring that acquired skills are validated and formally recognised.

Isabelle Barthès, Deputy General Secretary industriAll Europe states: “In a rapidly changing industry, it is crucial to continuously anticipate and manage skills and training needs. The aim is to avoid a situation where a lack of skills hinders a company’s recovery and transformation and weakens workers’ employability. Social dialogue at all levels, as well as effective enabling policies, are critical to ensure quality CVET. Sectoral social partners need to be closely involved in the design and the implementation of training, upskilling, reskilling and life-long learning policies, as well as employability policies to ensure future-proof occupational pathways”.

Ceemet Director General Delphine Rudelli adds: Managing skills needs are becoming of fundamental importance for companies as the lack of right skilled workers is putting a strain on companies’ global competitiveness. A context in which sectoral social partners can cooperate closely with education and training providers, should allow workers to obtain training that responds to the needs of the labour market. Only then can up- and re-skilling become what it is intended to be: a key element for an attractive career path.