Ursula Von Der Leyen, the President of the European Commission – a powerful decision-making EU institution, declared in her September “State of the Union” speech that 2023 is going to be the European Year of Skills, a worthy successor of the 2022 European Year of Youth. This means special attention to companies, industries, and first and foremost, workers and youth.
Skills are varied, and are acquired in different ways. The Commission underlined that the EU is in need of many new workers with many skills: from driving trucks to IT engineering, all of them are welcome in the job market and young people and students must be formed appropriately for the future that awaits them. Such a future will include words like digital, green, inclusive, equal, and innovative.
The Commission initiated a process to transpose the European Year of Skills into a set of laws that will be applied in all the Member States. The Commission Proposal lists activities that help fulfil the European job market requirements while taking into account the wishes and aspiration of its citizens. Most importantly, provisions focus on the development of both low-skilled and high-skilled professionals (meaning, for instance, of both waiters and teachers), on the presence of women in STEM, and on adaptation and lifelong learning: one must always be prepared to face changes in society and in the economy, and must never stop learning.
We, as young people, can certainly profit from this year. How? Read forth and discover!
Going on Erasmus abroad
An Erasmus opens the door to a new country, culture, language, people, and way of studying. It is done during your university career where you can choose to spend up to one year in another country abroad. You will receive a scholarship throughout your whole experience, allowing you to cover most of, if not all, your living expenses. Sometimes you even get some extras such as language classes.
Erasmus is a good combination of fun and studying that isn’t as hard to balance as one may think. Universities are generally keen on supporting it as it increases their prestige. An Erasmus experience also looks good on your CV! Finally, Erasmus is not only for studying, it’s also for traineeship. Check with your university if you’re able to do an internship abroad.
Getting into the mindset that learning is forever
You are not done learning when you finish your studies. After that, you will have a million chances to get new skills and knowledge. Still, opportunities do not show up themselves, but you have to seek them. This is what lifelong learning means: to voluntarily pursue knowledge in a constant way, a bit like a philosopher. Lifelong learning allows us to remain always updated and gain skills that are interesting for us and the job market. You can learn online or offline, formally or informally, alone or in a group, for free or by paying. The important thing is that you are willing to be curious. Check out courses offered by Google, LinkedIn, your local university, or the national employment service.
Doing something practical is an excellent way to acquire new skills. Volunteering does not require a lot of time and experience, and there are plenty of associations for any kind of aspiration and passion. Organizations and institutions would be excited to welcome a new volunteer or intern, and you will have the time of your life working with them. If you don’t know where to start, you might want to check out the Volunteer Centre in Zagreb. Otherwise, you can just contact any association that sparks your interest to see how you can collaborate!
By volunteering you will also meet new people with similar interests, and you will devote your time to a cause you care about. It’s an excellent way to discover your passions, try something new, and why not, even find a career.
If you want to know more on how the European Year of Skills is progressing, don’t miss out on some important resources:
- The Strategy and Policy of the European Commission
- The European Social Fund Plus
- The Directorate for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission
- The European Training Foundation