CoESS and UNI Europa comment on Skills Agenda for Europe

Labour shortage and new skills requirements are posing a challenge to businesses and workers in the private security sector. In a joint statement on the Skills Agenda for Europe, CoESS and UNI Europa provide recommendations on the scope for future EU action on these matters.

CoESS and its Social Partner UNI Europa published in 2018 a joint report on “Anticipating, Preparing and Managing Employment Change in the Private Security Industry”, which was part of a European Commission funded project. According to the report, the private security industry witnesses economic growth and demand, while technological developments and digitalisation change not only the services delivered by our industry, but also skills requirements. At the same time, our industry has to cope, like many others, with demographic change, labour and skills shortage, and the ageing of the workforce.

In the light of these challenges, CoESS and UNI Europa have published a joint statement on the planned update of the Skills Agenda for Europe, and provide recommendations for future EU activities on re- and upskilling, skills intelligence and a strengthened role of Social Partners. According to the European Commission’s Work Programme for 2020, presented on 29 January 2020, a new Skills Agenda for Europe shall help identify and fill skills shortages, as well as support reskilling

In their statement, the sectoral Social Partners stress that apart from older workers, it is not only the highly qualified that benefit from re- and upskilling pathways, but particularly less-qualified staff that have to adapt to new skills requirements. CoESS and UNI Europa are particularly worried at the European Commission’s finding that only 12.8% of less qualified adults receive guidance and counselling on re- and upskilling opportunities compared to 42.1% of high-qualified ones, and that only 4.3% of Europeans with, at best, lower secondary qualifications took part in education or training compared to 18.6% of high-qualified people. CoESS and UNI Europa therefore believe that a renewed Skills Agenda for Europe should focus on the participation of less skilled workers in re- and upskilling.

But businesses are also facing a general labour shortage. Many of CoESS’ members have difficulties finding young people willing to work in the private security industry. This development is not only due to demographic change. In many countries, the provision of skills to young people is not sufficiently connected with labour market needs, leading to skills shortages and mismatches. This does not only concern highly skilled workers with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) skills. Companies also have great difficulties hiring staff with only basic skills requirements.

Due to the continuation of these trends, the employment situation in the private security sector is becoming increasingly problematic and poses a challenge to our industry to respond to market demand – with an important impact on public security overall.

It is therefore important that the renewed Skills Agenda supports Social Partners, Chambers of Commerce and Member States’ employment and education agencies in tackling labour shortage, skills shortage and mismatches – with a specific focus on young people entering the labour market, but also disadvantaged groups including less skilled staff and elder people. Further, the better integration of high potential workforces such as women, immigrants and workers with disabilities in the labour market could play an important role to help countering the abovementioned challenges.

 The involvement of Social Partners on sectoral, national and European level, plays thereby a crucial role in updating the Skills Agenda and modernisation of Vocational Education and Training (VET). They know at first-hand about the challenges posed to industry sectors, businesses and workers due to demographic change and technological developments.

The EU dimension can be helpful in supporting mutual learning between Member States and Social Partners, best practice sharing, skills intelligence and policy recommendations. But it is equally important to provide Social Partners, Chambers and training bodies with the means of empowering workers for re- and upskilling pathways through EU-funding to enhance the availability of qualitative training and counter lack of time and money. EU financial resources such as ESF, EaSI and Erasmus+ can play a positive role in supporting better skills and job training and matching, as well as to supporting education and training systems to adapt to digitalisation – in addition to much needed public investment by Member States.

You can find the full statement here.