On the 15 and 16 December 2022, the 18th PES Network Board meeting took place as an online meeting under the Czech Presidency. Central topic on the 2 day agenda was the labour market integration of people fleeing the war in Ukraine. Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine for many refugees returning to their home country does not present a short-term option. Against this background the heads of PES discussed ways and challenges for successful labour market integration of Ukrainians within host countries. To support the discussion, Mr Lodewijk Asscher, Special Advisor to Commissioner Schmit on the integration of people fleeing Ukraine gave his assessment on the current state of play from a European perspective.
The topic was concluded with an exchange with Ms Tetyana Berezhna, Deputy Minister of economy and the Ms Yulia Zhovtyak, head of the Ukrainian PES, who shared their views on the impact of the war on the Ukrainian labour market and the role of the Ukrainian PES. The PES currently focuses on the provision of services for the internally displaced, including online services, guidance and training as well as assistance in reallocation of enterprises from dangerous areas. The PES Board is committed to supporting Ukrainian colleagues and will explore possible approaches within the 2023 work programme.
In the context of the 2023 European Year of skills the European Commission updated the Board on recent as well as on upcoming initiatives. For PES promoting investment in training and upskilling, making sure that skills are relevant for the labour market, matching people’s skills with the job market as well as attracting people from third countries with the skills needed by the EU, will be of particular importance.
The Board further addressed the topic of the ‘great resignation’ in the United States and discussed whether this could become a reality within the EU. The meeting continued with a discussion on the challenges for PES staff management after the pandemic. The Board concluded that in the long-term, supporting the ongoing digitalisation of PES and upscaled online training practices for employees will stayed in the focus. PES’ future will be marked by the development of staff competences and increased efforts should be made in relation to PES attractiveness as employer.
Finally the Board reflected on the outcomes of the 3rd Benchlearning cycle that is now coming to an end. It was highlighted that the 30 assessments showed that PES proved to be effective in handling the pandemic. In many cases the crisis helped speeding up developments, in particular in digitalisation of services. Remaining challenges will be addressed in particular via ‘Thematic Learning Dialogues’. The PES Network remains committed to Benchlearning and will now develop an updated methodology for the upcoming 4th cycle.
We thank our Czech PES colleagues for the organisation of this 18th Board meeting. We would like to wish you a happy New Year and we look forward to seeing you at the next Board meeting in June, under the Swedish presidency.