Member of the European Commission for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth
Launch of EU Skills Panorama
Brussels, 7 December 2012
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very glad to open this launch conference for the EU Skills Panorama. Today is indeed an important moment. It is the culmination of a lot of hard work to produce a tool that we already announced in our EU Agenda for News Skills and Jobs.
It is a tool we badly need in Europe. The world around us is changing, the demands of the labour markets are changing, and the skills people need to work and progress in their careers are changing as well.
These are changes we can ill afford to ignore. It is estimated that over the next seven years, the number of higher skilled jobs will have risen by a third since the turn of the century. And at the same time, the number of lower skilled jobs will have dropped by a third. By 2020, more than 16 million additional jobs will require higher skills.
This is why the Commission in the 2013 Annual Growth Survey invites the Member States to implement reforms towards better performing education and training systems, in order to raise overall skill levels. Investment in education, research, and innovation should be preserved and strengthened where possible, while ensuring the efficiency of such expenditure.
It is not a challenge Europe alone is facing. Other regions in the world are moving very fast in upskilling their people. And they are investing heavily for this objective.
The three largest emerging economies - Brazil, China and India - together are already training more people with STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) skills than three of the world's largest developed economies combined – the US, Japan and the UK.
China alone has announced the intention to increase its skilled workforce from 114 million to 180 million by 2020. And it plans to spend up to 15% of the country's gross domestic product to do so.
In Europe we have to act swiftly, because otherwise we will be forced to catch up more and more. For Europe, there is no room for complacency. Unemployment has reached dramatic levels in many Member States. And our young people have been among the hardest hit.
This past quarter, the jobless rate in the EU was over 10%. And in some Member States the youth unemployment rate is above 50%.
But the paradox we are facing is that employers in Europe have two million jobs that they cannot fill.
There are different reasons why employers cannot always find the right person for a job, but lacking the right skills is certainly top among them.
Europe cannot afford to continue like this. We cannot let temporary unemployment turn into structural joblessness because of the mismatches of skills we face.
We are now facing an urgent situation where upgrading people's skills is no longer a choice but a necessity. That is why today's launch of the EU Skills Panorama is so important.
It is also why the EU is working with the Member States and urging them to take immediate action. We cannot afford to stay behind the curve. The skills Panomara is our way to look ahead of it.
Two weeks ago, I presented a strategy on "Rethinking Education".
The aim is to support the Member States in implementing informed and evidence-based policies. We want them to focus on efficiency and to target actions where impact is higher.
I have placed a lot of emphasis in the strategy on the need for the Member States to carry out reforms in the area of education. These reforms include promoting more flexible, accessible and open learning and exploring new approaches to funding and partnerships. Without such changes, it will be much harder to deliver the right skills for employment.
Therefore, one of the key messages in Rethinking Education is that the modernisation of our education and training systems must go hand in hand with a better and deeper understanding of labour market needs.
This is true not only on the macro level, but also per occupation and region. If we have a detailed picture of skills mismatches across countries and economic sectors, we will be in a better position to bridge the transition between the world of education and work. Our schools and universities will be better placed to adapt curricula, to anticipate the needs and to help solve the mismatches.
Better anticipation means more efficient labour market matching and better support for geographical and occupational mobility. This is an important pre-condition to remove the current fragmentation of the labour market in Europe into 27 national labour markets.
Anticipating and better matching labour market needs is at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy for growth and jobs.
It is where education policy converges with employment policy. It is where action can lead to concrete results – more and better jobs for Europeans.
This places our first ever European Skills Panorama at the very heart of our efforts to generate growth and jobs.
As we will have the occasion to see in the presentations today, the Panorama provides a detailed picture of skills trends across countries and economic sectors. It aims at improving transparency for jobseekers, workers, companies and public institutions.
It is a modern tool, available online, and containing updated forecasting of skills supply and labour market needs up to 2020.
But the Panorama is also important for another reason. It is a good example of the Commission's overall goal to enhance evidence-based policy making. It is a good example of EU added value.
The Panorama gives a single access point to the most relevant European and national information sources. It allows organisations and policy makers to obtain information in a relevant manner for their own context.
The Panorama is also a good example of different services in the Commission working together. And for this, I would like to thank Commissioner Andor for the excellent collaboration between my services for Education and Culture and his services for Employment and Social Affairs.
I am also delighted that the Skills Panorama was developed with the expertise of other European agencies, like the Cedefop and Eurofund and was the result of work with experts in all the Member States.
The input and feedback of the Network of Observatories on Skills Needs and Mismatches, where Member States are represented, was extremely important. This made it possible to tailor the Panorama to the needs of policy makers and practitioners both from education and employment.
This is an important point: the Skills Panorama has been designed to be complementary and coherent with other EU tools.
It brought together different sources of anticipation such as the skills forecasts, the European Vacancy Monitor, employers surveys and the result of the European sector skills councils. The project was therefore of a very integrating nature.
It also naturally complements other tools developed by the Commission to enhance transparency and recognition of skills and qualifications across borders - namely the Europass, the European Qualifications Framework or the ESCO classification of skills, competences, qualifications and occupations. We will have the occasion to hear more about these synergies later today.
But this is just the beginning. The Skills Panorama we are launching today is a prototype and as such will require adaptation. Even when it becomes a mature product, the Skills Panorama is intended to be a dynamic tool. It will evolve continuously according to the needs of policy makers and the public in general.
The governance of the Panorama and its way forward will always be under the scope of the joint work of the Commission's services for Education and Employment.
And my services and I will continue to foster further synergies. In close cooperation with Commissioner Andor, we will develop further functionalities like automation of statistical data, and we will enlarge the scope of the sectoral analysis.
I will also ask Cedefop to keep on supporting the Commission in the development of the Panorama.
The continuous support from Member States and all stakeholders in identifying and discussing ways in which the Skills Panorama can evolve will also be instrumental for further development.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is now my pleasure to announce to you that from this moment the EU Skills Panorama is online and freely accessible at its own dedicated website (euskillspanorama.ec.europa.eu). It's a great result, of which we are proud, but it remains a work in progress, and I look forward to your feedback to improve the service it provides.