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EARLALL at the ‘Making Skills Count Conference’, Brussels June 8 – 9, 2023


The ‘Making Skills Count Conference’ was one of the flagship events taking place during the European Year of Skills,  held from June 8- 9 2023. The conference brought together policymakers, experts, and stakeholders from across Europe to explore the significance of skills in various contexts. The event featured engaging discussions, inspiring speeches, and thought-provoking panels that shed light on the importance of skills in driving economic growth and societal well-being.

Commissioner Nicolas Schmit inaugurated the conference by highlighting the pressing skills gaps in Europe, including shortages in IT specialists, hospitality, and care sectors. He stressed the need for companies to invest in their workforce and called for support measures to address skills shortages and underutilisation of skills. Commissioner Schmit also emphasised the responsibility of political representatives and society in providing opportunities and confidence to the approximately 8 million NEETs (young people not in employment, education, or training) to actively engage in lifelong learning and the labour market. He expressed confidence that the European Year of Skills would raise awareness of the importance of investing in people for Europe’s continued prosperity.

Valuing Skills in the Workplace

The first panel centred around the “Skills First” approach. This approach focuses on filling vacancies relying on skills rather than formal qualifications or job titles. Recently, this approach has been gaining momentum in recruitment and talent management. The European Union has been advocating such approaches for several years through its skills policy agenda and support tools. 

 The last panel of the day, chaired by Jurgen Schiebel, Director of Cedefop, explored strategies for valuing and incentivising training within organisations. The discussion centred on how company reporting, and financial accounts can drive a culture shift in perceiving staff training as an investment rather than a cost. Participants also explored how boardrooms can integrate training into strategic organisational management.

EARLALL’s projects at the forefront: LCAMP and SMALEI

During the second panel on the technical skills, particularly in green and digital sectors, the LCAMP project coordinator, Iñigo Araiztegui Arraiz, Director of Internationalisation at the Basque VET Applied Research Centre (Tknika), shared his experience and the LCAMP project. The panel was moderated by ETF Director, Pilvi Torsti who addressed the panellists with questions regarding the approaches that already exist, how can relevant skills be identified, and how can people be better equipped to adapt?

Moreover, SMALEI (Sustainability Matrix for Adult Learning and Education Institutions) was also presented during one of the market’s pitches organised. Colleagues from the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) provided information about the project and engaged with visitors, offering insights into the innovative matrix developed within the framework of SMALEI.

If you would like to watch any of the Conference’s best moment, including all workshops, please access the recordings here. To remain up to date on all news and major events regarding the European Year of Skills, visit the European Year of Skills Webpage