Transversal, Vocational, and Digital skills for Europe

By: Peter Gillis

Brexit overshadowed (or completely blotted out!) the EU Launch of the “New Skills Agenda for Europe” on the 20th of June.

For those of us involved in teaching and learning innovation, this is a very important event. It shows the commitment of the EU to skills as an area of focus, recognising the need in today’s economy for transversal skills among other more ‘vocational’ skills.

Two of Learnovate’s recent core projects focused on different aspects of promoting and assessing transversal skills and the timing is excellent in terms of potential for members to leverage this research. The “New Skills Agenda for Europe” initiative emphasises the need for research in digital, vocational and transversal skills and may also well inform direction for the next round of Learnovate Core Research.

The initiative is driven by the need for Europe to address skills shortages, skills mismatches and an ageing population in a rapidly changing knowledge economy. It focusses on three strands:
1. Improving the quality and relevance of skills formation
2. Making skills and qualifications more visible and comparable
3. Improving skills intelligence and information for better career choices

The report commits to 10 actions listed below, but this is not to miss out on other messages in the document, in particular in relation to;

  • supporting teachers and training the report states “Particular attention will be given to innovation in pedagogy; this will include supporting flexible curricula, promoting interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches within institutions, and supporting professional development to enhance innovative teaching practice, including ways of using and bringing digital tools into the classroom and stimulating entrepreneurial mindsets”
  • the commitment to improving work-based learning and business/education partnerships
  • validate non-formal and informal learning
  • supporting mobility for learners
  • improve learning at the workplace
  • modernising higher education “the development of competence assessment frameworks for different higher education disciplines to allow comparable assessment of students’ and graduates’ skills”.

10 Actions for the new skills agenda

  1. A Skills Guarantee to help low-skilled adults acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills and progress towards an upper secondary qualification.
  2. A review of the European Qualifications Framework for a better understanding of qualifications and to make better use of all available skills in the European labour market.
  3. The “Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition” bringing together Member States and education, employment and industry stakeholders to develop a large digital talent pool and ensure that individuals and the labour force in Europe are equipped with adequate digital skills.
  4. The ‘Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills’ to improve skills intelligence and address skills shortages in specific economic sectors.
  5. A “Skills Profile Tool Kit for Third Country Nationals” to support early identification and profiling of skills and qualifications of asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants.
  6. A revision of the Europass Framework, offering people better and easier-to-use tools to present their skills and get useful real-time information on skills needs and trends which can help with career and learning choices.
  7. Making Vocational Education and Training (VET) a first choice by enhancing opportunities for VET learners to undertake a work based learning experience and promoting greater visibility of good labour market outcomes of VET.
  8. A review of the Recommendation on Key Competences to help more people acquire the core set of skills necessary to work and live in the 21st century with a special focus on promoting entrepreneurial and innovation-oriented mind-sets and skills.
  9. An initiative on graduate tracking to improve information on how graduates progress in the labour market.
  10. A proposal to further analyse and exchange best practices on effective ways to address brain drain.

The report can be downloaded from the EU site at
If you would like to explore the potential of this exciting initiative further, contact us here at the centre and arrange to chat with myself or any of the team.