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European Education Area

Quality education and training for all

Development of skills

The importance of key competences development

The EU economy is constantly evolving. The demand for relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes changes over time. To deal with these changes, people need to be equipped with a set of key competences - including literacy, numeracy and digital competence. Critical thinking, creativity and the ability to work as part of a team are equally important to build sustainable careers and become active citizens.  

Education and training play a crucial role in enabling young people, in particular, to develop these competences and, thereby, provide the conditions for the best possible start in life. 

To better identify and manage the acquisition of required knowledge, skills, and attitudes, and prevent the emergence of skills gaps and mismatches, effective communication of the needs of the EU economy to the education and training sector is essential.

European initiatives in this field

  • The Council has outlined a set of 8 competences that all individuals need for personal fulfilment and development, active citizenship, social inclusion and employment in its Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning
  • The New Skills Agenda for Europe highlights 10 actions to make relevant training, skills and support available to EU citizens
  • The Commission’s Digital Education Action Plan contains 11 actions to make better use of digital technology for teaching, learning and developing digital competences
  • The Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition is a multi-stakeholder partnership that has been tasked with tackling a shortage of ICT skills to help fill the thousands of unfilled vacancies in this field
  • The Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan represents a blueprint for realising Europe's entrepreneurial potential by targeting the removal of existing obstacles and revolutionising the culture of entrepreneurship in the EU
  • ESCO is the multilingual classification of European Skills/Competences, Qualifications, and Occupations. It introduces standardised terminology in 25 European languages and categorises core skills, competences, qualifications and occupations for the EU economy and education and training providers
  • The Skills Panorama regularly monitors the evolving needs of the European economy and skills acquisition at the national and European level. It provides data on skills trends at the national and at the EU-level.