Business Europe: Promoting social partnership in employee training - Final report
- Rapid labour market changes such as the industry 4.0 revolution, digitalisation, social, demographic and environmental transitions and global challenges require joint actions on improving employee training. A skilled workforce is one of the main assets of the European social and economic model and this should be further developed to cope with the challenges posed by the future of work. Education, training and lifelong learning was reaffirmed as a priority by European heads of state and government while proclaiming the European Pillar of Social Rights in November 2017. Support for training to adults provides benefits for workers, employers and the whole of society.
- There are many different national laws, rules and approaches to the organisation and provision of employee training. Some countries have wide-ranging and strong vocational training policies set in legislation, while in others training provisions are set by collective agreements, at various levels, or agreed directly between employers and employees in the workplace. Opportunities to access training can also be dependent on the size of the company/workplace. Access to effective employee training should be facilitated while respecting the diversity and flexibility of systems, which vary according to diverse industrial relations practices.
- Financing levels and mechanisms of employee training vary significantly across Europe. This reflects the different levels of economic development in the Member States, but also different choices and responsibilities of the actors. Whatever the financing model, an important success factor is the involvement of social partners and the cooperative attitude between them when it comes to the management of funding, time and human resources. Improvements to national education and training systems could be further fostered through targeted financial support to Member States as part of the European semester process.
- Employee training can contribute towards creating a good working environment, which ensures employees’ well-being in their work, motivates them, and enables them to progress in their career and earnings. In turn, employers benefit from the enhanced motivation and productivity of their workforce and overall businesses performance. This means that there is a shared interest and a shared responsibility of employers and employees to contribute to upskilling and reskilling, leading to successful enterprises and an appropriately skilled workforce.
- Because they take an active role and have direct knowledge and experience of both labour and training markets, social partners are well placed to foster a diversified offer of training options in the search for the best possible fit with employers’ and workers’ needs on the labour market.
- Social dialogue and collective agreements, in particular at the sectoral level, play an important role in the governance of training systems and in creating training opportunities and improving the relevance and provision of employee training. This includes social partners working together to foster transition and career paths between sectors. The establishment of training funds has occurred in several Member States and can play an important role.
- Paid time off for work-relevant training and a right to training are established practices in some Member States. In such cases, social partners play a role in facilitating employees’ effective access to training. This could provide inspiration for other countries, depending on the national context.
- Employee training should be of high quality, effective and equally relevant for the worker and the employer. It should respond to the need for improving professional, soft and transversal skills and contribute to workplace and industry-related career development. Employee training offers should also respond to new and emerging developments in labour markets and enterprises. These offers should be tailor-made, innovative in terms of new training methods, take into account work organisation and be delivered online, where appropriate, and in a work-based environment. In addition, it should be accessible and benefit from pooling/mutualised resources within and between sectors.
- Training provisions must be designed in a way that fosters and supports mobility between and within sectors. Securing these transitions benefits workers’ employability and employers’ capacity to attract new recruits. The changes and transitions in the labour market require effective upskilling and reskilling, according to identified needs, and defined by labour market intelligence tools and social partner involvement at all appropriate levels, so as to respond to the existing and future skills demand identified by employers and trade unions across sectors and occupations. A good match between the training offer and enterprises’ need for an increasingly skilled workforce is a key condition for employers to offer training and for workers to access training and remain in quality employment while continued digitalisation, automation, and artificial intelligence changes their everyday work.
- Employee training should be seen as an overall approach within which there may be a need for a targeted approach to specific groups. In such cases, and as part of the wider approach to active labour market policies, Member States should provide effective and systematic support including financial resources for training that supports the integration of the low-skilled, unemployed and socio-economically disadvantaged groups in the labour market, in particular migrants and refugees, via employee training and adult apprenticeships. The training needs of older workers and of NEETs in particular should also be taken into account. As part of this, Member States should ensure the implementation of the upskilling pathways Council recommendation with the effective involvement of social partners, as applicable. Training schemes, developed with the involvement of the social partners, should aim to decrease the gender gap in certain professions, support women’s career development, and to ensure that they can also reach high-level and managerial positions where they are disproportionally under-represented. It is also important to encourage more women to study STEM subjects.
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