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The European Union Embracing the Skills Challenge: transforming the Future in 2023.

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Abstract: In a world marked by the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical changes, the EU's strategic dependence and challenges related to skills become increasingly evident. The European Year of Skills 2023 addresses contemporary challenges by promoting investments in education, enhancing the relevance of skills to the labor market's needs, and facilitating labor market access for all. This article explores its key role in ensuring Europe's preparedness for the future, also highlighting the contribution of "One Hour for Europe Italy" and the upcoming Genoa conference.

"European Years" are special years during which the European Union selects a specific theme for an internal awareness campaign. These years represent a unique opportunity to address important issues, stimulate public debate, and engage national governments in promoting an attitude change towards crucial topics.

What makes these years extraordinary is the fact that the European Commission, responsible for selecting the themes for "European Years," always includes a dedicated budget to fund initiatives related to the chosen theme. This means that "European Years" go beyond mere debate and translate into concrete actions that promote positive change in society.

The process of choosing the theme for a "European Year" is not complex: initially, the European Commission proposes a theme based on an analysis of relevant challenges or opportunities for the EU, and then the proposal is reviewed by the Parliament and the Council, which can make modifications to the proposal or approve it directly. Finally, an official Decision is adopted that defines the theme of the European Year. It is after these steps that specific initiatives and activities are developed to promote the theme during the designated year, involving various EU agencies, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders.

It all began in 1983 with the first "European Year" dedicated to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Crafts. Since then, the European Commission has proposed various significant themes for "European Years."

In the current context, the European Year of Skills 2023 plays a particularly relevant role: it highlights the importance of skills in modern Europe, outlining a concrete path to address challenges and promote progress. Considering the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, European strategic dependencies and imbalances between labor supply and demand have become evident. The green and digital transitions require new skills to support economic growth and reduce dependence on Russian energy.

Demographic changes, such as population aging, are also reducing the available workforce. Many businesses, especially SMEs, struggle to find qualified workers. This is a critical issue for highly skilled workers. Ursula von der Leyen has emphasized the role of migrants in the European economy and the need to attract global talents to maintain EU competitiveness.

To address these challenges, the European Year of Skills 2023 aims to promote investments in education and skills development, improve the relevance of skills to labor market needs, facilitate labor market access for women and young people, and recognize qualifications of third-country nationals. Various EU agencies and European funds will be involved in supporting these initiatives.

A series of strategic actions and coordinated measures have been presented:

Investments in education and skills development: accessible to all segments of society regardless of their initial qualifications.

Alignment of skills with labor market needs: collaborating with employment services, businesses, educational providers, and labor unions.

Attraction of talents from third countries: admission programs for qualified workers, fair treatment, and free access to learning.

Promotion of digital skills: aiming to equip 80% of adults with basic digital skills by 2030.

Cooperation among agencies and stakeholders: collaboration among European agencies, organizations, businesses, and governments to effectively address challenges.

To effectively address skills-related challenges in the European Union, it is essential to adopt a holistic approach that combines the effective use of European funds with synergistic cooperation among all involved parties. The European Union has various financial instruments, including the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), that can support education, training, and skills-related initiatives.

Collaboration among European agencies, organizations, businesses, and governments is crucial in overcoming skills-related challenges. Agencies such as Cedefop and Eurofound have a significant responsibility in monitoring and promoting skills in Europe, thereby contributing to more targeted and effective policies.

In summary, to ensure the future competitiveness and prosperity of the European Union, a comprehensive approach that combines the appropriate use of European funding with synergistic cooperation among all parties involved is necessary.

During the European Year of Skills, "One Hour for Europe Italy" has played an active role in promoting the importance of skills among young Italians. A tangible example of this commitment was the project at Vittorio Emanuele II - Ruffini school in Genoa, where volunteers conducted sessions focused on the Europass curriculum and job interview simulations.

The main goal was to open doors to European opportunities for young students, develop their skills, and prepare them for the European labor market. The culmination of the European Year of Skills will be the Genoa Conference on November 10, focusing on digital skills and active citizenship.

In summary, "One Hour for Europe Italy" commitment during the European Year of Skills has translated into concrete initiatives to raise awareness among young people about the importance of skills and prepare them for the European job market. A valuable contribution to the growth and development of skills among young people in Italy.

Did you know? You can find training activities on a dedicated portal! Click on European Year of Skills (or search for it on Google!). By scrolling on the opened page, you will find an interactive map with all the updated activities. If you click on the map markers, you can discover the details of the activities!

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