Technological progress and globalisation offer tremendous opportunities for innovation, growth and jobs, but it also requires skilled and adaptable people who are able to drive and support change. In order to deliver sector-specific skills solutions, the New Skills Agenda for Europe has launched the Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills. The Blueprint is a new framework for strategic cooperation between key stakeholders, such as business, trade unions, research, education and training institutions, public authorities in a given economic sector. It will stimulate investment and encourage a more strategic use of EU and national funding opportunities. The aim is to develop concrete actions to satisfy short and medium term skills needs to support the overall sectoral strategy. The Blueprint builds on previous work by the European Commission and sectoral partners to fight sector skills mismatches, in particular the Sector Skills Councils and the European Sector Skills Alliances. Going forward, it could also support smart specialisation strategies which help regions focus on sectors where they have greatest potential for competitive advantage. All relevant EU and national qualitative evidence and quantitative data produced under the Blueprint will contribute to the Skills Panorama and the new Europass Framework.
Three steps to match skills to sector’s needs
- Is the sector ready for an EU-wide partnership on skills?
The first step involves assessing skills gaps in the sector and their potential impact on growth, innovation and competitiveness. The presence and maturity of the overall growth strategy for the sector is verified, as well as the link to EU policy priorities. On this basis, the decision is taken on whether to move to the next phases or not. This groundwork is carried out by the Commission in cooperation with social partners and stakeholders. It can take place in more or less structured ways, depending on the way the sector is organised.
- Sectoral EU-partnerships for sustainable cooperation
Once the sectors have been chosen, the Commission supports the set-up and the work of sectoral partnerships at EU-level. Each partnership will develop a sectoral skills strategy to support the objectives of the overall growth strategy for the sector and match the demand and supply of skills. Partners will look into how major trends, such as global, societal, and technological developments, are likely to affect jobs and skills needs, as well as their potential impact on growth, competitiveness and employment in the sector (e.g. restructuring, hard-to-fill vacancies). It will then identify priorities and milestones for action and develop concrete solutions, such as creating and updating curricula and qualifications.
- Roll-out at national and regional level
Building on the results achieved at EU level, the Blueprint will be progressively rolled out at national and regional level, in cooperation with national and regional authorities, and key stakeholders.
The role of social partners
The Blueprint can only bring results if it is driven and owned by sector stakeholders. In this respect, the full involvement of social partners is very important. The Blueprint has been and will continue to be discussed in an open exchange with interested parties, including in the context of sectoral social dialogue committees.
Funding the Blueprint
The Blueprint is a new framework for strategic cooperation between key stakeholders which is independent from individual funding instruments. However, a number of funding opportunities are available.
In particular, to support the work of EU partnership a specific call open only to six pilot sectors has been published on 26 January 2017, under the new Lot 3 of the Erasmus+ Sector Skills Alliances. Calls for tenders will also be published under the COSME programme.
The pilot sectors are: Automotive, Defense, Maritime technology, Space – geo information, Textile, Clothing, Leather and Footwear and Tourism. The Blueprint will be extended to additional sectors in the future.