The European Parliament is debating this evening an Employment and Social Affairs Committee (EMPL) oral question about the Skills Guarantee that aims to help low-skilled adults acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills.

GUE/NGL MEP Lynn Boylan acknowledges the need for a Skills Guarantee to help people develop and hone new skills and to become “critical, confident and independent individuals and achieve their full potential.”

She adds: “It is also important that the Skills Guarantee involves civil society, education providers, and trade unions in order for it to be successful, as these organisations know how to reach the people who will benefit the most from upskilling pathways.”

However, Boylan criticises the new Skills Agenda for Europe, under which the Skills Guarantee is placed:

“It is imperative that the Skills Guarantee does not follow the trend of submissively adapting education and training to the labour market. The New Skills Agenda proposed by the Commission seeks to get European educational institutions to do the bidding of private interests by creating insecurity in the labour market while calling it 'flexibility' and compromising education systems with the demands of private industry interests.”

GUE/NGL MEP João Pimenta argued that the roots of the problem are not a coincidence as they result from an established doctrine of neoliberalism and austerity:

“The prevalence of low-level qualifications is intrinsically linked to the conditioning and limiting of social, educational and cultural rights. They are in line with political underpinnings that promote deregulation and precarious work and that increase – among other things – inequality, social exclusion and permanent poverty.”

The Portuguese MEP welcomed steps to increase educational opportunities but cautioned against masking the real problems:  

“We value initiatives that allow for an increase in the levels of competencies of those that abandoned or were forced to abandon the educational system at any level, with the involvement of civil society, educational authorities and trade unions.”

“Only in this way will it be possible to guarantee progress that is not only a temporary patch, which manipulates and hides the real levels of unemployment, and is unrelated to the needs of workers and the labour needs of a specific region but is rooted in regulation and labour protection, in the defence of collective bargaining, higher salaries and against precariousness.”

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