2023 – 2024: Why a European Year of Skills?

The European Year of Skills was announced by the European Commission President, Ursula Von der Leyen, during her third State of the Union Address before the Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 14 September 2022. The Year of Skills was officially proposed by the European Commission in October 2022 and a political agreement was reached on 7 March 2023, agreeing to launch the year officially on May 9 2023.

The Year will act as an impetus for lifelong learning, creating a new momentum to reach the EU 2030 social targets of at least 60% of adults in training every year, and at least 78% in employment. It will also ensure that the European workforce is equipped to deal not only with the twin digital and green transition, but also a just skills revolution. 

According to the Communication, the four priorities for the European Year of Skills 2023 are: 

  1. Attracting People – Attracting people from third countries when needed within the Union 
  1. Matching Aspirations – Matching people’s aspirations and skills-set with labour market opportunities 
  1. Skills Relevance – Strengthening skills relevance through close cooperation 
  1. Investment – Increased, more effective and inclusive investment 

What role do regions and local authorities have?

On 17 January 2023, the European Commission released a Communication on Harnessing talent in Europe’s regions which acted as the first deliverable of the European Year of Skills 2023. The Communication underlines the need for ‘good skills intelligence and close cooperation between regional and local authorities, social partner organisations, public and private employment services, local businesses and education and training providers, to ensure that the jointly deployed education, training and lifelong learning efforts focus on the right skills needed in a particular region.

On 9 February 2023, the Committee of the Regions 153rd Plenary session hosted a Debate on the European Year of Skills 2023. During the debate, Noelia Cantero, Director of the European Association of Regions and Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning (EARLALL), highlighted the importance of the role of regions and the EARLALL network.

What is EARLALL doing during the Year of Skills?

EARLALL is working in close cooperation with its member regions, local authorities and organisations, alongside the European Commission and Committee of the Regions, to frame the Year of Skills as an opportunity to highlight the importance of the local and regional level in the implementation of the EU’s ambitious skills plans.

Individual Learning Accounts Webinar

EARLALL hosted an online webinar on Individual Learning Accounts in Europe, within the framework of the European Year of Skills. It invited representatives from the European Commission and OECD, as well as from France and EARLALL member regions.

Gender Equality Task Force

EARLALL, EfVET and the EAEA have kicked off their activities for the joint Gender Equality Task Force in Lifelong Learning. The Task Force encourages discussion on EU policies and strategies related to gender equality in lifelong learning.

EARLALL Regional Exchange on the Year of Skills, 20- 21 June 2023

From June 20-21 2023, representatives from across the European Association of Regional and Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning (EARLALL) network gathered at the Representation of the State of Baden-Württemberg to the European Union (Brussels, Belgium) in the network’s flagship initiative in the European Year of Skills. The two-day conference, entitled ‘Regional Exchange on Policies and Practices in Lifelong Learning’, welcomed more than 50 political and technical representatives from across EARLALL’s 12 members and 4 associate members to discuss internally and exchange.


While the European Year of Skills is an excellent initiative for 2023, EARLALL hopes the priorities of the Year will continue at the EU level long into the future. EARLALL has launched the new hashtag #TogetherForLifelongLearning, symbolising the importance of regional cooperation in the context of the skills, adult learning, VET training, and formal and informal education challenges facing European regions.

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The Pact For Skills is one of the flagship initiatives of the European Education Area. EARLALL, as a network of regions and local authorities, is a member of the European Commission’s Pact For Skills Initiative. This means that EARLALL commits to translating our engagement into concrete commitments on upskilling and reskilling to bring the Pact to life. EARLALL is also currently in discussion with the European Commission about joining the Regional Partnership within the Pact for Skills.

European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA)

EARLALL has been a member of the EAfA since 2015 and pledged to boost cooperation among its members to promote and increase the number, quality and attractiveness of apprenticeships, and more specifically, to stimulate and extend mobility opportunities for apprentices. Browse the EAfA website for more information.

Harnessing Talent Platform Group on Research and Innovation

The Harnessing Talent Platform (HTP) is a newly formed knowledge-building and experience-exchange platform, which seeks to support regions in addressing the consequences of the demographic change and in mitigating the challenges associated with the decline of tertiary educated populations across the EU. EARLALL is a member of the Working group on research and innovation.

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