What is the Pact? 

The ‘Pact for Skills’ is the European Commission’s new shared approach to skills development. Officially launched on 10 November 2020 during the European Vocational Skills Week, it is part of the European Skills Agenda. The Pact demonstrates a serious effort to bring together key players from different backgrounds and sectors to make a united commitment, offering them concrete action points for implementation. The overall goal of the Pact is to maximise the impact and effectiveness of skills investment. The Pact for Skills is of particular interest to the Intelligent Cities Challenge, which includes an 'Upskilling and Reskilling' track. 

The Pact is a mechanism through which commitments are turned into effective action. It will do this by offering actionable ways in which signatories can contribute to upskilling and reskilling. The Pact identifies upskilling as the improvement of existing skills and reskilling as the training and development of new skills. The Pact also includes a Charter which details a shared vision from a range of key players, from vocational education and training (VET) partners to local authorities and industry.  

The ICC and the Pact 

The Intelligent Cities Challenge's approach to skills is closely aligned to that of the Pact for Skills. The ICC also views the upskilling and reskilling of the workforce as a crucial aspect of green, digital and social transformations. ICC participant city Pori (Finland) signed the Pact at the launch, showing its appeal to our ICC cities. Cities that take part in the ICC's thematic track on 'upskilling and reskilling, will receive advice on concrete ways to implement skills development from experienced mentor cities and dedicated experts. This will contribute towards ICC plans to create a network of “cities of excellence for reskilling”, with the view to develop common strategies and model training schemes among the interested cities. The Pact for Skills can play an important role in shaping the ICC's efforts to create a skilled workforce for our green, digital and socially equitable cities.  

Why is the Pact needed?  

“We do not have time for half measures.” 

The European Commission identified skills as a key element of the green and digital transformation as well as the COVID-19 recovery. The Pact also responds to concerns over unemployment, skills shortages and mismatched skills. At the launch, Nicolas Schmit (Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights) and Thierry Breton (Commissioner for Internal Market) spoke. Commissioner Schmit observed the urgent need for joint and substantial action to be taken, stating that “We do not have time for half measures”. While Commissioner Breton discussed the potential of European talent and how this Pact is “just the beginning”, anticipating a much wider movement for European skills. He further emphasised how important having the appropriate and correct skills are for green and digital transformations. 

“The launch of the Pact for Skills is just the beginning of our European skills offensive.”  


The Pact will offer a variety of support mechanisms that will enable signatories to work towards skill development. These will include: 

  • Networking Hub – opportunities to set up initial meetings and connect with partners. The hub provides links to EU tools and promotion of activities. The Pact outlines crucial partnerships with strategic industrial ecosystems. It focuses first on those impacted heavily by the current crisis and aligns itself with the European Green Deal’s priority goals. 
  • Knowledge Hub – sharing of informative resources such as learning activities and educational material. The leading Commissioners of the Pact are already organising roundtables to gather the views of various representatives such as educational training providers. 
  • Guidance and Resources Hub – funding opportunities such as Recovery and Resilience Facility should be utilised alongside other EU funding. Further options will be made available to signatories such as the European Social Fund Plus.  

The Pact for Skills launch was accompanied by the announcement of the first European skills partnerships in key industrial ecosystems, under the Networking Hub of the Pact. These partnerships would represent a public and private investment of billions of Euros. The first partnerships are: 

  • The automotive industry – upskilling 5% of the workforce each year, which equates to 700 000 people throughout the ecosystem. 
  • Microelectronics – upskilling and reskilling opportunities for over 250 000 workers and students. 
  • The aerospace and defence industries – upskill roughly 200 000 people each year and reskill another 300 000. 


The Pact is currently open and calling for all kinds of signatories. It aims to bring together a varied range of stakeholders who have impact throughout the value chain. Implementation of the Pact can be done by individual companies, regional or local partnerships or industrial partnerships and more. A diverse group is desired - from industry, employers, social partners, chambers of commerce, public authorities, education and training providers and employment agencies. The Pact will unite these different actors to build towards the bigger picture of European skills development as one.  

The Charter and Pact pay regard to the European Pillar of Social Rights, the European Green Deal and the Industrial and SMEs Strategies amongst other frameworks. This shows just how challenging the project of skilling the workforce is and how it must be done in collaboration in order to be effective.