Hackskills: exploring the skills contribution to the Covid-19 recovery

ETF webinar, 27 October 2020

Hackskills, a mutlilingual webinar hosted by the ETF together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), brought together international stakeholders to explore the contribution of skills development and lifelong learning to the COVID-19 recovery.

Panellists from the opening session drew attention to the most pressing issues for skills development such as the need for continued commitment to investing in people in an inclusive manner, stimulating greater adult learning, and supporting teachers.

The ETF’s Anastasia Fetsi started the opening session by giving an overview of the ETF's work with partner organisations to mitigate the impact of the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic on skills development stressing the need 'not to step back' from the commitment and necessity for skills development.

Indeed, Alison Crabb from the Employment Directorate of the European Commission continued by highlighting the key policy pillars of the EU’s skills agenda in which developing skills for employment must be supported by quality skills intelligence and tools for supporting individuals, such as individual learning accounts. “Stakeholders and partners need to join forces within the skills development field”, Crabb added.

Biljana Radonjic Ker-Lindsay from the EBRD described her organisation's engagement with employers particularly at a sectoral level and the need to go ‘beyond survival’ in the short term and work towards medium and long term solutions with public sector planning and support including activation policies in the labour market. This point was a focus of discussion in a subsequent breakout session

Sangheon Lee, Director of the Employment Policy Department from the ILO, spoke about the uneven recovery to the Covid-19 pandemic and how engagement with workers and social partners is essential to adopt measures needed to protect workers and ensure continued education and training, especially given the shift to digitalisation and the greening of the economy that risks leaving many behind.

Lee’s view was strongly echoed by Susan Flocken, European Director of the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) who called for more relevant and sustainable professional development for teachers to ensure quality education and teaching. Moreover, Flocken called for recognition of the 'skills for life' component in skills development for enterprises in contributing to prosperity, well-being, democracy and solidarity in these challenging times.

Participant discussions centred on ways to ensure the Covid-19 recovery is inclusive, innovative and green. In the breakout groups participants learnt about initiatives taking place in the EU’s neighbouring regions and Central Asia supported by the ETF and its partners. Ways to address the challenges at policy and enterprise level were analysed including activation and skills development policies and how skills for enterprise development can support sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience.

A further Hackskills Webinar is planned 10-11 December to explore in a plenary session the issues raised in the discussions and identify ways forward.


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