At least 60% of all adults should be participating in training every year by 2030, according to the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan. Despite increased political support for this initiative, the EU is unlikely to achieve this target.
Lockdowns and closures due to the Covid pandemic stagnated training uptake across EU member states: a 15.7% decrease was observed in training participation from 2019 to 2020. However, Covid is not the main reason why Europe will struggle to reach this target. Even if the pandemic was a transitory shock without long lasting adverse effects and training uptake converged to its pre-pandemic trajectory, only 54.52% of adults would be participating in training by 2030.
The European Council has published recommendations on individual learning accounts and microcredentials, which address important barriers to training. Although these are effective policy tools, their impact will be limited.
Lack of interest in training is the main reason for low participation. To better understand why people are hesitant about training, more inclusive data covering psychological, social, and institutional aspects is needed. Unfortunately, these aspects have been overlooked in survey design thus far.
It is imperative that the public sector assumes a larger role in financing and funding training, with particular focus on training for disadvantaged groups. Most of the training taking place in EU member countries is sponsored by employers, who usually invest in workers in middle-skilled and high-skilled occupations. To ramp up the training participation rate, and reach the targets set out in the Action Plan, more opportunities must be provided to vulnerable groups. This problem will not be solved if the private sector remains the primary source of training in the coming years.
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