EP fine-tunes agenda for new skills
By Sophie Petitjean | Wednesday 26 October 2011
The European Parliament subscribes to the 'Agenda for new skills and jobs' proposed by the European Commission, in November 2010, to improve the functioning of labour markets, deliver skills adapted to jobs and improve the quality of employment and working conditions. In a non-legislative resolution adopted in plenary, on 26 October, MEPs nevertheless suggest that emphasis should be placed on human capital and employability through an updating of skills. More reliable systems are also needed to anticipate over a ten-year period future skills needs and deficits in the European Union and its member states.
Informal learning effective
MEPs point out the importance of promoting and recognising both 'hard' (technical) and 'soft' (behavioural) skills to improve people's employment opportunities. They also stress the importance of informal learning and skills acquisition through stronger intergenerational cooperation and the need to increase participation in lifelong learning.
The resolution encourages member states to promote workplace-based training, in particular a dual system of education-training to introduce young people to the labour market from an early stage. To prevent trainees being used to replace regular employment, MEPs invite member states to set minimum standards in terms of pay and social rights and ask the Commission to set up a European framework for the quality of traineeships that sets decent working conditions. The resolution calls on the Commission to revise the existing framework for direct support provided by the Union to enterprises and to examine the possibility of allocating the bulk of this support for job creation in companies, skills development for workers and implementation of continuing training programmes.
Improving working conditions
The resolution, drafted by Regina Bastos (EPP, Portugal), states that new jobs must be matched with new forms of work organisation that permit workers who have to look after their children to work alternative hours, to reduce their working time or to choose teleworking. They call for more effective and accessible child care facilities and appropriate support for parents (or family carers).
MEPs rejected the amendment tabled by the S&D group, which objects to the idea of a single open-ended contract that would gradually strengthen protection against dismissal, as foreseen in the Commission's communications (COM(2010)682).