Agri-food ecosystem partners up to improve worker skills

Published: 14/07/2022

Earlier this year, the Pact for Skills partnership for the agri-food ecosystem was launched. What exactly is the Pact for Skills? Let’s hear from the partnership’s supporting policy officers at the European Commission Sónia de Melo-Xavier (DG EMPL), Melisa Duman (DG GROW) and Bertrand Collignon (DG AGRI).

Bringing stakeholders together

Two years ago, Commissioners Schmit (Jobs and Social Rights) and Breton (Internal Market) launched the Pact for Skills, a shared engagement model for skills development in Europe. The Pact aims to bring together all private and public stakeholders who share the common ambitions of up- and reskilling Europe’s workforce and the learning of the skills necessary for the green and digital transitions of Europe’s economy. Looking ahead, the Pact’s main goal will be to contribute to one of the three EU social targets set out in the European Pillar of Social Rights Action Plan of having at least 60% of all adults participate in training every year by 2030. The agri-food partnership is pleased to contribute to this goal.

Three DGs working together

First, DG GROW kicked off the organisation of a high-level roundtable with not only the food processing sector (the sector that DG GROW is responsible for in the Commission), but also farmers. As primary food production accounts for 22 million workers in Europe, DG AGRI was also involved in the partnership from the start. DG EMPL, DG GROW and DG AGRI are working closely together on this partnership.

Different sectors, similar issues

The food industry is different from primary production, yet both face similar challenges. The diversity of the ecosystem is also reflected in its coordination – since the roundtable, FoodDrinkEurope and Copa-Cogeca have been leading the work together. There is a need to improve the skills of the workforce to allow the industry to become more sustainable and digitalised and allow farmers to benefit from digitalisation. The ageing workforce and the pressing need to attract youth to the sectors are other issues to address.

Resources and inspiration

As funding will be key to address these challenges, the Pact for Skills Support Services facilitates access to information on EU funding instruments for skills and complements resources available at organisational, regional or national level, such as the European Social Fund Plus, Erasmus+ (the agri-food partnership is supported by two Erasmus+ projects) and the Recovery and Resilience Facility.

Moreover, the work done by previous Pact for Skills partnerships in other sectors can provide inspiration. For instance, the European Commission welcomed the successful management at regional level within the automotive Pact for Skills partnership.

Next steps

A Core Group of signatories has been set up and the partnership is now finalising its governance structure, key performance indicators and roadmap, creating a solid basis on which its success can be built.