On 13 March 2019 120 participants gathered in Brussels to discuss the outcome of the work of the European Defence Skills Partnership (EDSP) on a common vision on defence-related skills to solve today’s and tomorrow’s skills gaps in Europe. The main aim of the event Towards a European Defence Skills Strategy organised by the European Commission was to focus on the way forward in advance of the new Commission that will be setting priorities for 2019-2024, as well as on solutions to be implemented at the European, national and regional levels.
These are the key takeaways from the panel discussions on the way forward. EU needs:
- to develop strategic foresight in identifying and maintaining an awareness of industry’s skills needs
- to collaborate at European level to attain sustainable solutions for common needs and learn from each other
- to develop an ecosystem comprising industry, universities, training institutions and research centres to accelerate knowledge transfer, allow proactive communication of the sector’s needs and faster response by education and training
- to align with the European Defence Fund to ensure we have the skills for building capabilities for our security
- to use the European Structural and Investment Funds to support clustering and develop training and up-skilling, including in new technologies. Although projects are already happening, we need to raise awareness of Managing Authorities about the potential of ESIF to fund projects for the defence sector through ESIF.
- to raise awareness of the importance of the European defence industry through communication and outreach to make the defence industry more attractive to new talent, but companies must also adapt to the goals and profiles of the changing labour force
Vision on defence related skills for Europe today and tomorrow
The European Defence Skills Partnership was launched at a high level conference in Brussels on 19 June 2018. Organised by the European Commission, the event marked a milestone in the implementation of the European Defence Action Plan in addressing skills under the Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills initiative. More than 100 eminent representatives from industry and associations, academia, research organisations and national and regional authorities gathered to discuss challenges and trends in the availability of skills for the defence sector and ways to close the gaps.
Panel participants agreed it was critical to take on these challenges collectively in order to succeed and to go cross-border and build an ecosystem of capabilities and skills.
Objectives identified by the panel include:
- Skills are built around capability programmes and big companies give substance to industrial cooperation through developing partnerships.
- There is a need to tap into the potential of, in particular SMEs and start-ups, and take advantage of the innovation driven by the civil side.
- Efforts need to be strengthened to render the sector more attractive to young graduates and women.