RIGHT's Final Event

25 May 2022 - Published by Galo Juarez

On May 23rd RIGHT, Right Skills for the Right Future, project presented its results in a public event that took place at Scotland House in Brussels. Mr. Felix Rohn and Ms. Andy Kontoudakis from the European Commission gave important input.

The event was opened by Bård Sandal, director of the Department of Innovation and Business Development at Vestland County Council, lead partners in this Project. Mr. Sandal welcomed the guests and made a short speech presenting the project and its importance and urgency. After these words, he introduced Mr. Felix Rohn, Policy Officer from the DG Employment who gave the keynote speech.

Mr. Rohn talked about the importance of the lifelong learning culture and introduced the audience to the Fit for 55 package, as the way ahead for European policy to shape how Europeans live and do business. He stressed the need of an energetically independent Europe, the urgency of cutting emissions and the subsequent transition to a greener Europe. This transition and its policies, Mr. Rohn explained, will see the creation of one million jobs by 2030, and an extra one million by 2050. He also talked about a new era where reskilling will be a necessity, meaning that we need a clear picture of the current skills of the workforce and how these skills can transfer to other sectors. In order to do this, Mr. Rohn presented several tools like Validation, Individual Learning Accounts or Microcredentials, all of which will help us achieve this.

In addition, Mr. Rohn also talked about the European Skills Agenda, which includes actions to skill for the green future. The European Taxonomy for Skills for Green Transition has mapped the most relevant skills for the green market. It also includes a proposal for education in environmental sustainability.

To close his speech, Mr. Rohn talked about the Competence Framework on Sustainability (GreenComp), RePowerEU and the Pact of Skills, and how the RIGHT project can serve as a building block by closer involvement under the Pact for Skills.

The next presentation in the event was done by Ms. Kate Clarke, chair of the Project’s Steering Committee. She talked about the challenges the Project has faced during its lifetime, especially the impact the Covid pandemic, Brexit and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This backdrop has changed the society we live in. Ms. Clarke explained that the Project has moved with the times and that its findings are relevant for this new reality. She went on to talk about the different Work Packages and how they developed. The final policy recommendations were also presented as part of the final result package. One of the main messages from the project shows that we need to create build skills policy as part of our overall innovation infrastructure and that our approach to skills must be integrated into an ecosystems approach. The legacy of the project will be seen in our continued partnerships and new initiatives.

The fourth and final part of the event saw two panel debates. Ms. Kathrin Jakobsen from Vestland County Council interviewed skills experts in order to gather input for context, adding a extra dimension to the discussions.

Ms. Andy Kontoudakis, Policy officer at Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE), Noelia Cantero director of EARLALL (European Association of Regional and Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning) and Dr. Anu Manickam, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, discussed agendas for future skills development. The importance of reframing skills and innovation agendas, including smart specialization strategies was emphasized. Ms. Cantero stressed that focusing only on what skills we will need in the future is misleading, since we cannot predict the future, as things change fast. Therefore, we need a more inclusive frame when we build infrastructure. At the same time, she mentioned the need to boost the regional dimension of the Pact for Skills. Dr. Anu Manickam added that when thinking in transitions, we need also to focus on how to make lifelong learning attractive. Ms. Kontoudakis for her part, made very clear that innovation amongst small and medium sized companies must also be tapped into since they have an important role in addition to large companies. Therefore, we need to focus on these and push for engagement and knowledge development as the main facilitators. She went on to explain their work at MARE and how they support regions to tap into new opportunities.

The second panel, led by Ward Nouwen from the Province of Antwerp, gave the project partners an opportunity to discuss the regional impact of the project. Mr. Stian Lavik, elected representative from Alver Municipality, Karl Löfmark, business developer from Region Skåne and Altany Craik, elected repetitive from Fife Council contributed. Mr. Craik talked about the importance of facilitating the way for businesses, creating a seamless connection of underlying policy by making easily accessible tools for them. One of the main ideas that came out from this panel, was that we need a people-centric view, and that it is very important for all partner regions to retain talent in their regions. They saw that some tools developed in the project, for examples under “Mind the Gap”, can be useful across all regions in the North Sea area. A mapping of current skills in the regions and how these can be relevant for the green transition will secure a “resilient future”. Finally, Mr. Löfmark, mentioned the importance of connecting businesses and ensuring their direct participation in skill development.

The award-winning film, from the North Sea Region video competition, “Reskilling in Alver, Norway” made by Alver municipality under the project rounded off the event. The film is highly relevant for all the partners and captures the people centric element we need for the green skills transition.