Identifying upskilling and reskilling policies in response to the changing labour market
Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs)
In its ‘Commission Work Programme 2021’, the European Commission announced the launch of a new legislative and non-legislative initiative, ‘individual learning accounts (ILAs)’, as well as the publication of an impact assessment, to: “Help close existing gaps in the access to training for working-age adults and empower them to successfully manage labour market transitions”.
An individual learning account should give people of working age who are living in an EU Member State a budget to spend on training to improve their skills and employability. Adults of all educational levels and from all professions or occupations should be eligible for an ILA, and everyone should make use of and benefit from this initiative. Member States need to allocate financing and make sure all workers are aware of and can apply for a budget . This will allow people to undertake longer or more expensive training, train to update their skills, or acquire new skills they will need in the future.
The Adecco Group (TAG) is focused on making ILAs accessible to people in diverse forms of employment. According to TAG’s Briefing Paper on ILAs, “the need for simplicity also underlines the risk of creating a scheme that is targeted to only a limited set of workers. ILAs are excellently suited to support workers throughout labour market transitions and should therefore not be dependent on overly complex procedures establishing a workers’ employment status or skills level before granting certain training rights.”
Alternative forms of education are becoming increasingly popular and skill-based careers are replacing degrees in some industries.
In the same Commission proposal, Member States are urged to develop micro-credentials that are recognised across the EU, across businesses and institutions. Micro-credentials should be of high quality and issued in a transparent manner to be used by workers and job seekers alike.
Further, the recommendation seeks to make micro-credentials more widely available in higher education and vocational education training (VET) sectors. It's important to see micro-credentials as complements to and extensions of education, training, lifelong learning, and employability ecosystems.
According to the ILO's International Labour Conference, “quality apprenticeships can constitute effective and efficient responses to current challenges and provide lifelong learning opportunities to enhance productivity, resilience, transitions and employability and meet current and future labour market needs.”
But a number of governments agree that, while several ILO international labour standards refer to aspects of skills development and systems, none gives clear guidance on apprenticeships. Therefore, in 2022, the International Labour Conference will set standards for apprenticeships as part of its agenda. Multiple governments and employers’ and workers’ organizations stress the need to formulate instruments in a way that considers differences in national circumstances.
Upskilling has to be a public-private partnership. All stakeholders must identify, scale up and replicate existing public-private partnerships as part of the solution. Career management services have a big role to play here in bringing stakeholder initiatives together and making upscaling and reskilling solutions available to everyone.
As mentioned in this year’s General Assembly Community Reskilling white paper: “ […] no one entity could solve a once-in-a-generation economic crisis alone. By bringing together training providers, business leaders, and public-sector organizations, these community reskilling initiatives are tapping into the unique strengths of each partner to build a regional workforce infrastructure that is more resilient, more equitable, and more future-proof than before the pandemic.”
Both the digital and green transitions require workers with the right skills. The pandemic has further increased the need to retrain and upskill workers in order to adapt to changing labour markets. Acquiring new skills is essential both for business and employee growth. Therefore, lifelong learning should be available to everyone, and no one should be left behind.
We need to make ILAs a central aspect of individualised and portable social rights within the framework of a New Social Contract that takes account of the transforming world of work. The Adecco Group calls upon all social partners to engage in this crucial endeavour and will remain committed and responsible in helping to make the future work for everyone.