Skills are the key to the future. It is thanks to its skilled workforce that Europe will reap the benefits of the green and digital transitions and remain competitive. At the same time, upskilling and reskilling is a clear social policy because it ensures that workers can more easily navigate from one job to another.
Microelectronics is at the crossroads of many sectors, such as the automotive industry, manufacturing, health, and energy. The European electronics industry is facing an acute shortage of skills in all tiers of its value chain, particularly in electronics design, both digital and analog, and in system and software engineering. A sustainable provision of qualified personnel is key to maintain competitiveness and innovation leadership. Yet, companies in this area suffer from a critical shortage of engineers with competence in microelectronics technology and design. The rapid evolution of the electronics industry calls for a continuous update of skills and knowhow.
Vocational education and training has an important role to master these challenges. Modern, inclusive and dynamic vocational education and training programmes are a pre-requisite to remain competitive in the digital age. We must support agile partnerships to develop skills for smart industrial specialisation and the green and digital transitions. Everybody must be on board to shape the workforce transformation in Europe: industry, social partners, education and training organisations, as well as policymakers. The Blueprint for sectoral cooperation on skills launched in 2016 is an excellent model for strategic collaboration and will be extended.
The Commission has recently proposed an update of our successful Skills Agenda for Europe. One key element is the new Pact for Skills, in order for all stakeholders to generate new concrete commitments to invest in upskilling and reskilling. It will help us to respond to the extent and speed of change in the economy and society. I warmly invite the microelectronics industry to participate in the Pact.
I welcome the fact that SEMI and its 19 partners from 14 countries launched METIS – MicroElectronics Training, Industry and Skills Erasmus+ Project – in November 2019. METIS will receive 4 million EUR EU funding to implement a comprehensive strategy with a view to identify and fill skills shortages, to tackle skills mismatches, and to support upskilling and reskilling in order to address the challenges of the future of work and digitalisation.
Nicolas Schmit is European Commissioner Jobs and Social Rights.