The Pact for Skills: Mobilising all partners to invest in skills
Commissioners Schmit and Breton have officially launched the Pact for Skills, a central element of the European Skills Agenda. They have also announced the first European skills partnerships in key industrial ecosystems – automotive, microelectronics, and aerospace and defence industries. Skills are central to our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and for mastering the digital and green transitions. Businesses, large and small, need skilled people to innovate and grow. Yet, mismatches and shortages in skills are increasing, while a large number of people are at risk of unemployment. Only by joining the forces of all relevant partners can we make substantial progress in meeting Europe’s skills needs.
The Pact for Skills promotes joint action to maximise the impact of investing in improving existing skills (upskilling) and training in new skills (reskilling). It calls on industry, employers, social partners, chambers of commerce, public authorities, education and training providers and employment agencies to work together and make a clear commitment to invest in training for all working age people across the Union.
Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, stated: “Today, most employers know that investing in skills needs to be a key issue in their strategy. They realise that they cannot rely on governments alone to take the responsibility for education and training. The Pact for Skills will gather and inspire different commitments from companies large and small, employment agencies, social partners, VET providers and other partners to create large-scale industrial partnerships. We do not have time for half measures. We need to act now.”
Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton, said: “European talent is at the heart of our industrial resilience and will be the engine for the recovery from the pandemic. As the twin green and digital transitions are gathering speed, we want to equip all Europeans with the right skills. Today, we are announcing first skills partnerships in three industrial ecosystems: automotive, microelectronics and aerospace and defence. More will follow. The launch of the Pact for Skills is just the beginning of our European skills offensive.”
Boosting joint action to maximise impact
The Pact for Skills is accompanied by a Charter outlining a shared vision from industry, social partners, vocational education and training (VET) providers, national, regional and local authorities as regards quality training. To ensure that the Pact is created together with the relevant stakeholders, Commissioner Breton and Commissioner Schmit already kicked-off a series of high-level roundtables with representatives of industrial ecosystems, regional and national authorities, education and social partners and education and training providers. More such roundtables will follow in the coming weeks.
Drawing on these fruitful discussions with a selection of industries, the Pact sets up large-scale partnerships in strategic industrial ecosystems heavily affected by the current crisis and the priority areas identified in the European Green Deal to achieve ambitious commitments. The first European skills partnerships in key industrial ecosystems have now been announced, with more to follow in the coming months:
- Automotive:The ambition to upskill 5% of the workforce each year would result in around 700,000 people being upskilled throughout the entire ecosystem, representing a potential overall private and public investment of €7bn starting with regional pilot schemes.
- Microelectronics: Initiatives underpinning the ambition of the partnership represent an overall public and private investment of €2bn providing upskilling and reskilling opportunities for more than 250,000 workers and students (2021-2025) in Europe’s electronics clusters.
- Aerospace and defence: The ambition is to upskill around 6% of the workforce each year reaching 200,000 people, and to reskill 300,000 people to enter the ecosystem representing a public and private investment of €1bn over the next ten years.
Joining the Pact
By joining the Pact, stakeholders will gain access to networking, knowledge and resource hubs. The Commission will also offer information and guidance on EU funding and programmes for skills development by offering a single-entry point at EU level. In addition to the funding available under REACT-EU, the European Social Fund Plus and other relevant programmes of the new multiannual financial framework (2021-2027), up- and reskilling is one of the flagship investment priorities of the Recovery and Resilience Facility, worth €672.5 billion.
The Pact for Skills is one of the flagship initiatives under the European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience, presented on 1 July 2020. The main objective of the Pact is to mobilise resources and incentivise all relevant stakeholders to take real action to upskill and reskill the workforce, by pooling efforts and setting up partnerships supporting green and digital transitions as well as local and regional growth strategies.
The new European Industrial Strategy acknowledged the importance of skills for the twin green and digital transitions and the opportunities they can create for people. Retraining and reskilling have to be a major part of our social market economy. Similarly, the recently adopted Digital Education Plan stresses the importance of promoting digital skills and competences for offering everyone an opportunity to participate in the digital transformation.
The launch event of the Pact took place on 10 November 2020 during the European Vocational Skills Week 2020, organised by the European Commission in partnership with the German Presidency of the Council of the EU. The fifth edition of the European Vocational Skills Week encourages people of all ages to ‘Discover Your Talent’ through vocational education and training.
Kishore Mahbubani: “A Russian defeat would not be in the interests of the Global South”
“Today Western diplomacy is clumsy. The Cambridge’s Bennett Institute for Public Policy survey argues that America’s tendency to divide the world into friends and enemies — the “forces of democracy against autocracy” — has become self-fulfilling. Regimes that see themselves as victims of American hostility, especially because of local human-rights shortcomings, collaborate defensively in mutual support, fueling opposition to Washington,” Max Hastings, a Bloomberg opinion columnist, experienced and hardened political scientist – a former editor in chief of the ‘Daily Telegraph’ and the ‘London Evening Standard’, writes at Bloomberg. He notes:
“Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani, a former president of the UN Security Council, asserts that most people on the planet want to inhabit a multipolar world, not one dominated by the US or Russia or China. This, he claims, is why many nations are not enforcing sanctions over Ukraine. “A Russian defeat,” says Mahbubani, “would not be in the interests of the Global South. Many countries in the South who still retain memories of the once-dominant West know the West will once again become arrogant and insufferable if it defeats Russia completely.”
All this is frustrating for us Westerners. We know that we are the “good guys”. Our leaders repeatedly declare that it is in the “vital interests of democracy and freedom-loving peoples everywhere” for the Russians to be driven back to where they came from. Yet moral conceit is a besetting vice of our culture.
Western nations might fare better in the conduct of foreign policy if we tried harder to understand why many don’t support our campaign for Ukrainian freedom. In our own times, a YouGov poll shows that while 65% of respondents in the European democracies see Russia as an adversary, 51% of Indians, for instance, view Putin’s nation as an ally (29% see it as a “necessary partner” and only 5% as an adversary).
Memories still rankle among Indians of how US sanctions against Iraq and Iran drove up energy costs in the sub-continent. India’s former ambassador to Russia said in an influential recent interview: “We have not accepted the Western framing of the [Ukraine] conflict”…
Following Lavrov’s recent visit to South Africa, its foreign minister Naledi Pandor recanted an earlier denunciation of Russian aggression. She applauded her country’s “growing economic bilateral relationship” with Moscow. Meanwhile, almost all the North African nations are enthusiastically buying Russian oil.
Some people characterize Russia’s current activism as its Great Return to Africa, of which the most conspicuous manifestation is the deployment of Wagner mercenaries to stem Islamic insurgencies in Francophone West Africa and the Arabic-speaking north. In Africa, the Moscow-controlled TV outlets Sputnik and Russia Today command big audiences.
China is responsible for one-third of all infrastructure projects in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Putin’s recent speech to the Russian Assembly, he denounced past Western foreign interventions in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and Syria, saying: “they will never be able to wash off this blood.” A large foreign audience agrees with him.
Lavrov is obviously right when he says: “The unipolar world is irretrievably receding into the past. A multi-polar world is being born.”
It is not that many people wish to live in Russia or China. But neither do they wish their countries to fall under American hegemony.
Not to be forgotten, the US and Britain were for decades prominent supporters of South Africa’s white apartheid government, because of its perceived value as an anti-communist bastion in the Cold War. And efforts to export democracy by force — notably in Iraq — have backfired by resurrecting memories of colonialism.
In the new world order that Lavrov believes to be evolving, the autocracies and democracies pit themselves against each other as adversaries.
But many nations in between are determined to remain neutral, both from self-interest and skepticism about absolute virtue,” Max Hastings concludes.
Greece: New report urges better protection for human trafficking victims
In its second report on Greece, the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) acknowledges positive steps taken by the Greek authorities to combat human trafficking, but also highlights a number of shortcomings.
The report examines progress made by Greece in the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings since the publication of GRETA’s first report in October 2017. The adoption of a national action plan for preventing and combating human trafficking, and the setting up of the National Referral Mechanism for the identification of victims of trafficking, are among the important steps taken by the Greek authorities. The legislative framework has also been revised, as recommended by GRETA in its first report.
The report pays particular attention to combating human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation. In the wake of the Chowdury judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, the Greek authorities have taken a number of measures, including the regularisation of undocumented Bangladeshi workers. GRETA calls for further improvements, such as increasing the number of labour inspectors and training them to detect cases of human trafficking and exploitation.
Another focus of the report is preventing child trafficking. GRETA welcomes the setting up of the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors, the establishment of safe zones for unaccompanied children, and the increase in the number of accommodation facilities. However, GRETA urges the Greek authorities to increase their outreach work to identify child victims of trafficking, and to provide them with long-term assistance.
The report stresses that the identification of victims of trafficking should not depend on the presumed victim’s complaint and co-operation in the investigation or criminal proceedings. The expertise of specialised NGOs, psychologists, health-care staff and labour inspectors should be duly considered during the identification procedure. Noting with concern reports of pushbacks and forced removals of migrants and asylum seekers at the land and sea border with Türkiye, GRETA calls on the Greek authorities to ensure that individualised risk assessment is conducted prior to any forced removals and that it assesses the risks of trafficking or re-trafficking on return.
The report also expresses concern over the failure of the authorities to apply protective measures to victims of trafficking, thus exposing them to re-traumatisation and re-victimisation. GRETA urges the Greek authorities to make full use in practice of the available measures to protect victims, including children. Police officers, prosecutors and judges should be provided with the necessary training in order to ensure the application of such measures in practice.
Furthermore, GRETA notes that no applications for state compensation have been submitted by victims of trafficking, and asks the Greek authorities to take steps to ensure that state compensation is effectively accessible to victims of trafficking.
The report also calls on the Greek authorities to ensure that the police units investigating trafficking offences are properly resourced and enabled to carry out proactive and prompt investigations, including financial investigations.
Pompeo: The Biden administration allowed the Chinese and Russians to come together
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Fox News weighs in on the Biden administration’s response to the meeting between Presidents Xi and Putin:
– To hear the White House place this down as if it’s unimportant is a strategic mistake. They often speak in riddles but this is no riddle.
– The Biden administration allowed the Chinese and Russians to come together and presents a risk to every American citizen.
– A couple things we should think of…1,000 nuclear weapons to add to the Chinese arsenal.
– Now two members of the U.N. Security council join against the United States of America. Bad for the United States as well.
– I think we may be in a situation again where this administration has drawn a ‘red line’ and the Chinese communist party has crossed it willy-nilly.
– We spent a lot of time thinking our way through how to separate the Chinese communist party and Russia. They have now found a way to come together…
– The economic engagement between the two is important and will impact the United States and jobs all around our country. And we should be absolutely on point in pushing back against what it is they’re trying to do.
– We aren’t victims but have to be.
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