In 2017, 15.7% of low-qualified young Europeans aged 15 to 29 were not in education, employment or training (NEET), compared to 9.6% of their better educated peers. In the same year, the unemployment rate of low-qualified adults of working age (25 to 64) stood at 13.9% in the EU-28 while that of their highly qualified peers was at 4.2%.
To help its Member States to take both preventive and remedial action, the EU has launched a number of measures, including two large-scale initiatives:
The Youth guarantee helps EU countries ensure that all ‘young people up to the age of 25 receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving school or becoming unemployed’. All countries have committed to implementing the Youth guarantee as laid out in a 2013 Council recommendation.
The Upskilling pathways initiative is designed to support low-qualified adults who are not eligible for Youth guarantee support. This initiative follows up on European education ministers’ conclusions on VET: it helps adults have their upskilling needs identified and receive training, strengthen their literacy, numeracy and digital skills and/or acquire a broader set of skills.
Upskilling adults: a need for life-spanning integrated learning pathways Adults’ learning needs tend to be more diverse and sometimes more difficult to address than those of young people, ranging from serious literacy and numeracy weaknesses to obsolete occupational skills. Some adults may lack awareness of their deficiencies or may be embarrassed to admit them.
While adults may have specific gaps, many possess identifiable skills, including occupational skills acquired at work. Measures to help need to build on candidates’ prior learning, which requires an assessment of their existing knowledge and skills, and an approach tailored to their individual situation.
Many EU Member States now have arrangements for validation of non-formal and informal learning. These offer individuals the possibility to have their skills assessed and recognised as a partial or full qualification. Such a skills assessment can open the door to subsequent upskilling measures, result in a reduction in training time or at least deepen self- awareness, which may lead to future learning.
Stakeholder cooperation and partnerships
People at risk of disconnecting from education and work usually face complex problems. Having to deal with multiple institutions to seek help can be discouraging. To remedy the situation, stakeholders in some countries have joined forces to provide integrated, easily accessible services.
Upskilling helps meet employers’ needs
To be of value, qualification measures have to provide real currency on the labour market. This can be any documented learning outcome that may be in demand by employers, including entrepreneurial, digital and language skills. Many countries have skills forecasting systems in place, which specifically look at employers’ skill needs. Such systems aim to provide intelligence, which, in turn, can guide the design of education and training offers.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Briefing note – Preventing low skills through lifelong learning | Cedefop