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Skills and transformation of work

In recent years technological advances, new forms of work and the ensuing change in skills needs has dominated the employment policy debate also in the EU Against this background, it is natural for Finland’s Presidency to focus on investing in skills.

The platform economy, technological advances and artificial intelligence are irrevocably changing economic structures, tasks and ways of working, and even what we understand by work. It is crucial for Europe’s future to ensure that people develop a broad set of skills and to make the most of Europe’s human capital, which is a widely recognised driver of European growth.

There are still differences among member states when it comes to fostering knowledge and skills in practice. That is why the EU must find a way to create a socially and economically strong and fair Union. To achieve this, EU actions must have the support and trust of the people.

EU skills strategy to support member states

Everyone, irrespective of their educational background, should have the chance to update their training flexibly and continuously and throughout their careers to achieve genuine lifelong learning. Turning this aspiration into reality remains, however, a challenge at EU level. We must strengthen people’s basic skills and create for them opportunities to gain more complex skills to bolster European competitiveness at the global level. There is an increasing need for skills anticipation and upskilling and reskilling guidance. During its Presidency, Finland will organise an EU conference on lifelong learning and vocational guidance as part of the European Vocational Skills Week.

Investing in people should be seen as a strategic choice that bolsters competitiveness of the Union. The EU needs an evidence-based skills strategy that anticipate skills needs in working life. The EU should actively support its member states to strengthen forward-looking, life-long learning.

Europe needs effective skills incentives, backed up by best practices. The EU institutions and member states should consider the option of promoting life-long learning by means of EU funding.

Availability and mobility of labour

Efforts to address skill shortages and skill mismatch in the labour market are linked with measures to advance the employment of vulnerable groups in the labour market, including fostering skills acquisition and development. Finland wants to advance discussions on these issues during its Presidency by, for example, drafting Council conclusions on making the labour market more inclusive. The conclusions would especially discuss the labour market status of people with partial work ability.

Digitalisation offers solutions for increasing the international mobility of labour. However, the increasingly mobility of labour calls for measures to counter abuse and promote best practices to facilitate the integration of foreign employees and their families across Europe. Guidance by public authorities can also contribute to higher mobility of labour. Finland’s Presidency coincides with the 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organization (ILO). To mark the anniversary, the Presidency is drafting Council conclusions on global challenges and solutions in the labour market.


Pauliina Porkka, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 048 278, [email protected]

Liisa Heinonen, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 064 131, [email protected]

Riikka-Maria Turkia, Senior Specialist, tel. +32 2 2878 583, [email protected]