EU Pact for Skills: mobilising all partners to invest in skills

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What is the Pact for Skills?

The Pact for Skills is a new engagement and governance model for a joint skills endeavour. The Pact aims to mobilise and incentivise all relevant stakeholders to take concrete commitments to upskill and reskill people of working age, and, when relevant, pool efforts via partnerships. All stakeholders joining the Pact should sign up to the Charter and can benefit from EU support through networking, knowledge and guidance and resources hubs.

The Pact can be implemented:

  • through the launch of large-scale European public-private multi-stakeholder partnerships, in some cases, based on the experience of the Blueprints for sectoral cooperation on skills. These partnerships will involve all stakeholders, notably SMEs who struggle with access to skills. Stakeholders are encouraged to pool expertise, resources (for example training facilities within the value chain) and funding towards concrete upskilling and reskilling actions with clear commitments that will allow people to keep, change or find new jobs.
  • through individual commitments of companies, in the same way as the pledges under the European Alliance for Apprenticeships,
  • through the commitment of existing organisations/partnerships: for example national/regional or local (e.g. cities) partnerships based on cluster or territorial skills strategies; social partners agreements and/or tripartite agreements.
  • Why do we need a Pact for Skills?

    The transitions to a green and digital economy, of the evolving global trade and supply chains, and the fast pace of demographic change are having a transformative effect on our labour markets. The coronavirus crisis is considerably accelerating a number of trends related to the future of work, from remote work to automation of repetitive tasks, while also putting a large number of people at risk of unemployment.

    Most employers, large and small, know that investing in new skills is a key issue for their competitiveness, innovation and growth strategy. There is a broad societal consensus about the need to make lifelong learning a reality and invest massively in our workforce to improving existing skills (upskill) and train in new skills (reskill). However, concrete actions are often lacking and everybody is competing fiercely to access the same talent pool.  

    This shows that no individual, company or single institution – private or public – will be able to solve the skills challenge alone. Thus, the time has come for a new approach to skills to meet COVID-19 challenges, and deliver on the ambitions of the recovery pathway, the EU Industrial Strategy and the green and digital transition.

What is the purpose of the Pact for Skills Charter?

The aim of the Charter is to ensure a common understanding among stakeholders of key principles underlying upskilling and reskilling activities within their organisations and across their value chain or ecosystem. It will help the different organisations joining the Pact for Skills to centre themselves around common values and priorities as well as to achieve shared objectives.

It is firmly anchored in the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights and supports the goals of the European Green Deal and the digital transformation, as set out in the Commission communication “A strong Social Europe for Just Transitions”.

What are the benefits of joining the Pact for Skills?

At EU level, the Pact for Skills will offer in 2021:

  1. platform where businesses of all sizes and all relevant stakeholders can meet and build large-scale skills partnerships to advance upskilling and reskilling.
  2. platform where organisations can present themselves as credible leaders committed to invest in human capital.
  3. single-entry point providing clear and efficient access to information on relevant EU funding instruments and programmes in support of upskilling and reskilling.
  4. Assistance for the exchange between the large-scale skills partnerships and national/regional authorities from Member States about financial support.
  5. knowledge hub focused on building upskilling and reskilling partnerships and other important aspects of developing human capital.

Who can join the Pact for Skills?

The Pact for Skills is open to all partners interested in promoting the upskilling and reskilling of people, for example:

  • individual companies, organisations or associations;
  • large-scale European public-private multi-stakeholder partnerships in specific industrial ecosystems;
  • large-scale European public-private multi-stakeholder partnerships across different sectors;
  • national/regional or local partnerships based on cluster or territorial skills strategies;
  • social partners agreements and/or tripartite agreements.

he Pact for Skills is accompanied by a Charter outlining a shared vision from industry, social partners, vocational education and training (VET) providers, national, regional and local authorities as regards quality training. To ensure that the Pact is created together with the relevant stakeholders, Commissioner Breton and Commissioner Schmit already kicked-off a series of high-level roundtables with representatives of industrial ecosystems, regional and national authorities, education and social partners and education and training providers. More such roundtables will follow in the coming weeks.

Drawing on these fruitful discussions with a selection of industries, the Pact sets up large-scale partnerships in strategic industrial ecosystems heavily affected by the current crisis and the priority areas identified in the European Green Deal to achieve ambitious commitments. The first European skills partnerships in key industrial ecosystems have now been announced, with more to follow in the coming months:

  • Automotive:The ambition to upskill 5% of the workforce each year would result in around 700,000 people being upskilled throughout the entire ecosystem, representing a potential overall private and public investment of €7bn starting with regional pilot schemes.
  • Microelectronics: Initiatives underpinning the ambition of the partnership represent an overall public and private investment of €2bn providing upskilling and reskilling opportunities for more than 250,000 workers and students (2021-2025) in Europe's electronics clusters.
  • Aerospace and defence: The ambition is to upskill around 6% of the workforce each year reaching 200,000 people, and to reskill 300,000 people to enter the ecosystem representing a public and private investment of €1bn over the next ten years.

Joining the Pact

By joining the Pact, stakeholders will gain access to networking, knowledge and resource hubs. The Commission will also offer information and guidance on EU funding and programmes for skills development by offering a single-entry point at EU level. In addition to the funding available under REACT-EU, the European Social Fund Plus and other relevant programmes of the new multiannual financial framework (2021-2027), up- and reskilling is one of the flagship investment priorities of the Recovery and Resilience Facility, worth €672.5 billion.


The Pact for Skills is one of the flagship initiatives under the European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience, presented on 1 July 2020. The main objective of the Pact is to mobilise resources and incentivise all relevant stakeholders to take real action to upskill and reskill the workforce, by pooling efforts and setting up partnerships supporting green and digital transitions as well as local and regional growth strategies.

The new European Industrial Strategy acknowledged the importance of skills for the twin green and digital transitions and the opportunities they can create for people. Retraining and reskilling have to be a major part of our social market economy. Similarly, the recently adopted Digital Education Plan stresses the importance of promoting digital skills and competences for offering everyone an opportunity to participate in the digital transformation.

The launch event of the Pact took place on 10 November 2020 during the European Vocational Skills Week 2020, organised by the European Commission in partnership with the German Presidency of the Council of the EU. The fifth edition of the European Vocational Skills Week encourages people of all ages to ‘Discover Your Talent' through vocational education and training.

Why were the automotive, microelectronics, and aerospace and defence industries chosen as key areas for upskilling and re-skilling?

Automotive, microelectronics, aerospace and defence industries are part of the 14 industrial ecosystems identified as crucial for Europe's recovery and the transformation towards a green, digital and resilient economy. These three are the first industrial ecosystems to formulate clear commitments based on the ongoing series of high-level roundtables on the Pact for Skills hosted by Commissioners Breton and Schmit, with more to come. They also build on the experience of existing Blueprints for sectoral cooperation on skills.

Microelectronics are an important industrial ecosystem because the industry depends more and more on electronic components and systems. The Pact will be instrumental in setting up new and upgrading existing teaching and training equipment and digital education infrastructure. Upskilling and reskilling are also important drivers for the Aerospace and Defence industry's recovery from the pandemic, ensuring carbon-free products and manufacturing, meeting digital needs, running successful European programmes, and improving Europe's strategic autonomy and resilience. Substantial investments have already been made by the automotive industry into low and zero emission vehicles, such as electric cars as well as more connected and automated technology. This requires a major reskilling and upskilling effort of people employed directly in the sector and in the wider value chain.

The Pact for Skills remains open to join for all parties interested in advancing the upskilling and reskilling of people of working age. This includes other European industrial ecosystems of course.

How will the Commission monitor the commitments under the Pact for Skills?

Together with defining concrete upskilling or reskilling actions, the signatories of the Pact will be asked to define the methodology and the frequency of monitoring of their actions. The signatories of the Pact will be asked to report annually about their progress in relation to the key performance indicators they committed to implement. Based on the data provided, the Commission will prepare an annual overview on the implementation of the Pact, which will be publicly available.

How will the Pact for Skills be financed?

The success of the Pact depends on the commitment, the expertise and the resources its signatories bring to the partnerships they build and the results they achieve together. To incentivise ambitious upskilling and reskilling actions under the Pact, partnerships can be supported by EU funding.

National and regional authorities will manage the vast majority of the available funds for skills under the Recovery and Resilience Facility and in the next European Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027). The signatories of the Pact can apply already now to national and regional managing authorities under the Recovery Assistance for Cohesion and the Territories of Europe (REACT-EU).

The REACT-EU package includes €47.5 billion of additional funds that will be made available to the 2014-2020 European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). A significant part of the €87 billion available from ESF+ will be invested in flexible opportunities for upgrading of skills and sectoral cooperation regarding skills. The Commission will also continue with the Sector Skills Alliances and the call for the Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation under the Erasmus+ programme.

For More Information

On the Pact for Skills:

The Pact for Skills Charter

Video of supporters of the Pact for Skills

Form for partners interested in joining the Pact for Skills

Press release: The Pact for Skills: Call for a joint and strong European Skills Endeavour

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