Employment and social affairs ministers, at Council meeting, adopted a recommendation to support people’s training needs and thus increase the number of people engaged in each year.
The Council is recommending that member states consider establishing individual learning accounts as a means for enabling and empowering individuals to participate in labour-market relevant training and facilitate their access to or retention in employment. And it recommends – if member states decide to establish individual learning accounts – to put in place an enabling framework.
Individual learning accounts would provide working-age people with a budget for training to improve their skills and employability throughout their lives, regardless of whether they are actually employed or not.
At the Porto Social Summit, which took place in May 2021, EU leaders welcomed an EU-level target of 60% of all adults taking part in training each year by 2030. This recommendation aims to help member states meet this target.
The enabling framework comprises measures to promote the effective take-up of the individual learning accounts. The framework includes actions ranging from ensuring the availability of career guidance services and validation opportunities to the establishment of an updated public training registry and the development of a national digital portal for accessing the learning account and navigating the registry.
New skills needed for the green and digital transitions
The Commission’s European Skills Agenda from July 2020 calls for a skills revolution to turn the ecological and digital transitions into opportunities for a prompt and fair recovery.
Skills for the green transition and the upskilling and reskilling of the workforce will be needed in the context of the shift to a modern, resource-efficient and competitive economy. There is also a lack of workers with adequate digital skills. The EU wants 80% of its population to have basic digital skills by 2030.
Insufficient financial support for individuals remains one of the main barriers for participation in training activities. Many companies do not provide or fund training for their staff and individuals in atypical work have less or no access to employer-sponsored training.
Time constraints are also an important barrier. And where paid training leave arrangements exist, they often do not apply to atypical workers or to people experiencing periods of unemployment or low economic activity.
Individual learning accounts would provide people with direct support through training entitlements and would allow people to accumulate and use training entitlements over a set period. This would allow them to follow longer or more expensive training courses or to train for periods of reduced economic activity.
The Commission published this proposal for a Council recommendation on individual learning accounts on 10 December 2021 – alongside another proposal on micro-credentials. (Which has also been adopted by the EPSCO Council of 16 June.) Both proposals were part of the twelve flagship actions announced in the European Skills Agenda (July 2020) and the European Social Rights Action Plan (March 2021).
The monitoring of progress towards reaching the overall objectives of this recommendation, namely supporting working-age adults in accessing training and increasing individuals’ incentives and motivation to seek training, will happen in the context of the European Semester reporting.
After five years the Commission will prepare a report for the Council with an assessment and evaluation of the progress in the implementation of the recommendation.