FLORES and the European Year of Skills

On April 30, the closing event of the European Year of Skills took place in Brussels.

In the form of a large-scale conference, hundreds of participants came together to share successful skills stories and discuss the legacy of the European Year of Skills. We looked back at the achievements of the Year and reflected on the road ahead.

One of the key partners and speakers during the event was the FLORES project, and EU-funded initiative that is developing tools and activities to support and expand the Pact for Skills in the Offshore Renewable Energies.

Pact for Skills in Action

Skills cannot be hand delivered from the Brussels Bubble, it us up to the Member States, industries, businesses, training and educational providers to do the work on the ground ».

Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice President of the European Commission for a Europe fit for the Digital Age, who opened the event

In the framework of the event, the FLORES project participated in the ‘Pact for Skills’ in action panel, where Mariana Batista, from FLORES partner WindEurope, talked about the Renewable Energy Skills Partnership She brought along Elisabete Pinto da Silva, a steel structures specialist in Parkwind, who participated in the FLORES video series to promote ORE jobs among the youth.

Key messages

Mariana and Elisabete brought back very interesting messages and best practices shared from various speakers in the event. They will serve as food for thought when developing new materials and initiatives whitin the FLOREs project.

Mainstream skills

Skills need to be mainstreamed across all policy areas and not as an afterthought. Even in our own work, when we talk about supply chain, investments, competitiveness, skills and more generally the workforce are a key to success. We shouldn’t assume people know it’s somehow connected, we must be explicit, “skills make us more competitive”.

Attracting labour abroad

We must be careful when talking about this issue as if it was a “commodity”. Both Commissioner Nicholas Schmit and MEP João Albuquerque warned that the EU cannot be a competitive block without quality jobs.

Improve job quality

We lack quality jobs, work life balance is difficult to achieve, as is childcare, transport, the inclusion of disabled people and the youth. Before we try to even attract workers, we must improve working conditions. And if jobs are not attractive, nor is the training that comes with it. We must give visibility first to jobs, people will follow and training will only come afterwards.

Community outreach

People must be motivated to actually enrol in reskilling and upskilling initiatives. This requires community building, marketing the programs first before expanding them any further. Advisory structures are needed to offer real career guidance for people who don’t know what they want, or what is needed. We must make it easy, make it simple.

Educational reform

Workers are afraid to go back to training because they think they might get bad grades or be judged, as a memory from their youth experiences or childhood complexes. This should make us all question about our educational systems and the effects they have on lifelong learning mindset.

Perceptions are challenging

More needs to be done on the misconceptions of Vocational Education Training, we need Europe-wide campaigns to change our mindset towards this type of training, which is actually in great need of students to prepare the workers of the future.

Influencers are the way to go

Two interesting examples where brought to the conference. One of them was the FLORES project itselft, which is building on the great work of many interesting professionals across Europe, who were interviewed and are acting as ambassadors of Offshore Renewable Energies careers, specially for the youth. On this very same line, the European Builders Confederation is also working closely with influencers to target new audiences. 10% of construction workforce is made up of women and Confederation is working directly with them to give them more visibility whithin the sector.

Inclusive language is key

We must change the way we talk to people in order to reach new publics. One very nice example given during the conference was the Operations of the Danish State Railways, which set a goal of 60% women in their workforce, aiming for 50% of train drivers to be women. They accomplished this by having more women working directly in the marketing projects and putting women as the face of their marketing initiatives. In parallel, they did a huge overhaul on the way they recruited: they used less “aggressive” adjectives in job adverts such as “need to be” and stopped using “male-dominated adjectives” such as “strong leadership style”. The results were inspiringly successful.

From the year to the decade of skills

The skill challenge is so big and so relevant for Europe’s survival that all participants left the conference with the a very clear idea:

Skills are here to stay, it’s the time to transition from the « year” of skills to the “decade” of skills.



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