Social Inclusion high on EU policy agenda

Social inclusion is high on the EU policy agenda in 2021. It is a key focus of the Portuguese EU Council Presidency from 1 January 2021 and a main pillar of its programme focusing on a resilient, social, green, digital and global Europe. In the external area, the EU has launched a Gender Action Plan – putting women and girls' rights at the heart of the global recovery for a gender-equal world.

Social inclusion is an important transversal issue in the ETF’s work, which is devised and delivered in the context of the EU’s policies, including the European Pillar of Social Rights, and the EU's external relations priorities in support of the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, quality education and decent work and economic growth for prosperous, innovative and inclusive societies.

ETF’s 2021 Work Programme

Technological change, the greening of economies, globalisation and demographic factors, including migration and the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, have profoundly influenced labour markets and the workplace and require new skills sets for individuals to make best use of opportunities while mitigating emerging risks.

The ETF will implement its 2021 work programme reinforcing collaboration and knowledge sharing supporting social inclusion as an important transversal issue within all its activities and more specifically within the following actions:  

The Torino Process

In June 2021 the 5th round of the Torino Process (2018 - 2020) will close with an international conference “Lifelong Learning Systems for Green and Inclusive Societies in the Digital Era” during which the results will be discussed in the context of greener, digital and more inclusive societies and a confirmation of the priorities for education and training against the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic. 

Upskilling and reskilling through Active Labour Market Policies

The ETF is addressing inclusion by supporting upskilling and reskilling through Active Labour Market Policies (ALMPs) beginning with a mapping of developments, challenges and measures to counteract the effects of COVID-19 health crisis in the ETF partner countries. The mapping will present an overview of the situation particularly regarding individuals and marginalised groups exposed to joblessness and the risk of social exclusion and exacerbations caused by the pandemic. Secondly, an exchange of practice involving both EU Neighbourhood and EU Member States (and beyond) will offer opportunities for peer learning and contribute to the ETF knowledge building and policy advice provided to our partner countries and to the European Commission, and in global research discussions and debates.

Engaging enterprises in skills development

This year the ETF will also continue its activities to engage enterprises in skills development after the monitoring and engagement actions undertaken in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will be liaising with intermediary bodies working with enterprises, and with enterprises themselves, to identify measures beyond the immediate financial and worker support remedial actions in 2020. Engaging companies into skills development through work-based learning, career guidance and supporting inclusive skills strategies for enterprise development for sustainable competitiveness, inclusion and resilience requires integrating skilling, re-skilling and up-skilling actions as outlined above. We will highlight good practices both at enterprise and policy level together in partnership with UNIDO and EBRD and other international and national stakeholders to inform choices conducive to sustainability and inclusion.


The ETF’s operations in developing countries are further guided by the European Consensus on Development, which aligns the Union's development policy with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Through the Consensus the EU and its Member States commit to supporting inclusive lifelong learning and equitable quality education in developing countries, including promoting education at secondary and tertiary level, technical and vocational training, and work-based and adult learning. Special attention is paid to education and training opportunities for girls and women. Digital literacy and skills are an important tool to empower people, especially women and persons in vulnerable and marginalised situations, to promote social inclusion and to facilitate their participation in democratic governance and the digital economy.

The ETF's efforts as a contributor to the international fora working towards the achievement of the sustainable development goals focuses on the capacity building of stakeholders in our partner countries in the EU's neighbouring regions. The aim is to establish policies and practices that enhance the role of human capital development in sustainability and social inclusion, emphasising its civic, social, and equity dimensions. 

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