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Lucubrate Magazine, February 20th, 2023
The year 2023 is the European Year of Skills. The European Year of Skills idea gives technical Vocational Education and Training a fresh impetus.
The European Year of Skills (the year 2023) aims to boost competitiveness, investment in training and upskilling opportunities to ensure that workers acquire the skills demanded in the labour market, including digital skills. The initiative comes from the challenges and opportunities brought to the labour market by the digital and green transitions.
The European Year of Skills will give a fresh impetus to lifelong learning, empowering people and companies to contribute to the green and digital transitions, supporting innovation and competitiveness . The idea is to emphasise the following:
- Lifelong learning
- Empowering People
- Empowering Companies
- The Green Transitions
- The Digital Transitions
Let us dig into those words and understand what the European year of skills can bring.
Learning is not limited to a single, specific phase in life, that of the years at school, but also happens in different contexts throughout a lifetime.
Lifelong learning is a form of self-initiated education focused on personal development. While there is no standardised definition of lifelong learning, it generally refers to learning outside a formal educational institute, such as a school, university or corporate training.
Lifelong learning is an approach to learning—whether in personal or professional contexts—that is continuous and self-motivated. Lifelong learning can be formal or informal and occurs throughout an individual’s life, ‘from the cradle to the grave.’ 
According to Collins Dictionary, empowering someone means giving them the means to achieve something, for example, to become stronger or more successful .
Education plays a significant role in empowering people. It can equip individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to become self-sufficient and successful. Technical Vocational Education and Training
(TVET) is vital for those who are looking for specific career paths. It can allow them to gain practical experience and valuable skills that will help them succeed in their chosen field.
Moreover, providing access to resources such as mentorship, financial aid, and job training can also be a great way to empower people. By giving individuals the tools they need to succeed, they can reach their full potential and create a better future.
Companies increasingly invest in technology to empower their human resources and increase their technical knowledge. By leveraging the power of AI, companies can automate mundane tasks, streamline processes and improve customer experience. AI-powered solutions also provide insights that help companies make better decisions. With the right technology, companies can create a more efficient, productive and profitable business environment.
In addition to providing technological solutions, companies can invest in their human resources to ensure they are empowered to do their best work. Employees can learn new skills through training and development programs to help them become more effective at their job. Companies should also strive to create an inclusive work environment where everyone feels valued and respected regardless of gender or race.
The Green Transitions
Climate change and environmental degradation are existential threats to the world. The green transition means a shift towards economically sustainable growth and an economy not based on fossil fuels and overconsumption of natural resources. A sustainable economy relies on low-carbon solutions that promote a circular economy and biodiversity.
The Green Transitions initiative seeks to empower individuals and communities with the technical knowledge and skills they need to transition to a green economy. It focuses on providing education and lifelong learning opportunities so that everyone can benefit from the changes in our environment. The Green Transitions also seeks to create a more sustainable future by promoting green practices, such as renewable energy sources and green technologies. By providing access to these resources, Green Transitions hopes to create an environment where everyone can participate in building a greener future.
The Digital Transitions
Digital transition refers to moving an existing analogue system to a digital format. The digital transition is improving your current technologies, tools, and processes rather than adopting new techniques and approaches.
Automating manual steps, upgrading to newer technology, adding additional integrations to improve turnaround times, and gaining efficiency in time, revenue, and profitability is not necessarily a business transformation project. It is more likely to be a transition.
Digital transformation is a vital pillar of the new industrial strategy for Europe, with high expectations for its potential to relaunch Europe’s industrial leadership. It is also an essential pillar of the ‘twin transition’, which the European Commission adopted as a defining element of its agenda for future sustainable growth. Every policy choice, from connectivity to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and the collection and sharing of data, should be aligned with these principles and goals. 
Innovation is the systematic practice of developing and marketing breakthrough products and services for adoption by customers .
Innovation and digitalisation are affecting how people work, with the emergence of new types of employment, such as in the ‘gig’ economy, new occupations and environmental challenges. They are also affecting the skills in demand in the labour market, leading to upskilling and reskilling of the workforce and emphasising the need for high-quality TVET for labour market entry and high quality for the existing workforce. Skill shortages exist alongside deficiencies in basic skills; in the coming years, we need more medium and high skills, and TVET at higher levels will need to become more prominent. Key competencies have become more critical in a world where occupational change is commonplace and new skills – such as skills for ‘green jobs’ – are in demand. 
A competitive economy is one whose sustained productivity rate can drive growth, income, and welfare .
The industrial strategy for Europe offers measures to accelerate the green and digital transitions and also responds to calls to identify and monitor the leading indicators of economic competitiveness :
- internal market integration
- productivity growth
- international competitiveness
- public and private investment and
- research and development investment.
Since 2000, the European Union (EU) has become the world’s most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy. Member states committed themselves to increase European cooperation TVET through Copenhagen by aligning with the knowledge-based economy goal. The Copenhagen process is an integrated part of the Lisbon strategy. TVET has developed to play an active and critical role in furthering lifelong learning policies and supplying the highly skilled workforce necessary to make Europe one of the world’s most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economies and societies. However, TVET has a vital role in alleviating potential adverse effects of demographic change on EU economies and societies.
The European Year of Skills wants to improve lifelong learning, empowering people and companies to contribute to the green and digital transitions and supporting innovation and competitiveness. We welcome the output of this massive investment in TVET.
 European Year of Skills 2023 (https://commission.europa.eu/strategy-and-policy/priorities-2019-2024/europe-fit-digital-age/european-year-skills-2023_en)
 Robin Nichols, What is Lifelong Learning, and Why Should you Turn Employees into Lifelong Learners?
 The Digital Transition, CEPS, 19 JUL 2021
 What is innovation? McKinsey, August 17, 2022
 INNOVATION & DIGITALISATION, A report of the ET 2020 Working Group on Vocational Education and Training (VET)
 EURO-Lex (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/EN/legal-content/glossary/competitiveness.html)
 Gouhar Pirzada, Importance of 21st century TVET skills for developing countries: a lesson from Europe, Research Gate, November 2020
Lucubrate Magazine February 2023
The photo on the top of the article: Adobe Stock