New Work - A stronger right to continuing education

Sponsored content Switch to French for original article

Listen to this article

In all sectors of activity, companies have to face important changes. Employees, for their part, must be able to adapt. To accompany these changes, the Chamber of Employees would like to see individual training rights strengthened throughout one's career.

On the labour market, one of the challenges is to match the supply of skills with the needs of companies. For more than 20 years, Luxembourg, as a major economic centre at the heart of a cross-border geographical area, has drawn heavily on the talent pool of the Greater Region. "Now, however, in all sectors, throughout Europe, talent is increasingly competitive and difficult to attract", explains Claude Cardoso, management consultant at the Chambre des Salariés. "Players must be able to cope with major upheavals, societal changes linked to technological, regulatory and environmental developments. This implies relying on new skills. Employees, more than ever, must be able to adapt and, to do so, train, reorient themselves and acquire new skills."

The limits of existing law

In Luxembourg, several schemes exist to support continuing training. In addition to state co-financing of in-company training, there is individual training leave, unpaid leave and the possibility of flexible working hours for training. "However, these rights are quite limited. If we are talking about individual training leave, it provides for 80 days throughout one's career and is capped at 20 days over two years", explains Jeannine Kohn, management consultant at the Chambre des Salariés. "This is largely insufficient for retraining and career reorientation. Moreover, the financial aspect is not covered by this scheme." Unpaid leave allows people to focus more on acquiring new skills. The option, as the name suggests, is not very attractive financially. "You have to be able to afford it", says Jeannine Kohn. "The schemes currently in place do not go far enough and are not very flexible."

An increasingly critical issue

In a world that is changing ever more rapidly, continuing education is not an afterthought. On the contrary, it has become a necessity, enabling everyone to adapt, to develop their employability and to ensure lasting career prospects. For several years, the Chamber of Employees has been advocating a review of the right to individual training throughout one's professional career.

Jeannine Kohn

"It has become urgent to rethink the models to allow all citizens to benefit from a certain number of days dedicated to training, which could be accumulated from year to year and which would also be associated with financial aid", says Claude Cardoso. This model is already applied in France, through the personal training account. "The advantage of such a system is that it is linked to the employee. It is a portable right, which makes the person directly responsible, allowing them to take the initiative independently of any employer", continues the management consultant.

Aligning with European targets

While the need for continuing education is not new, in the face of societal change, the response to it is becoming increasingly critical. The CSL's position is now echoed in the European Union's skills strategy. "Today, those who are trained and who take advantage of existing schemes are the most qualified people. Yet there is a real inclusion issue at this level", says Jeannine Kohn. "The least qualified adults are the ones who most need training to stay in work. At EU level, the objective is that by 2025 30 per cent of low-skilled 25–64 year olds should be engaged in formal or non-formal education at the end of that year. We must therefore create a facilitating framework to encourage them to take this route and remove the obstacles to continuing vocational training."

Overcoming barriers to training

These obstacles are now known and there are several studies on this subject. For example, the Jacques Delors Institute has studied the issue. "In the results of the study carried out, we discover that there is above all an issue of awareness", explains Jeannine Kohn. "For the vast majority of adults who do not take part in training, this is simply because they do not want to. For the majority of them, this reluctance is due to the fact that they do not feel the need for further training. If we look at adults who are not in training but would like to do so, lack of time (40.7 per cent), high costs (31.9 per cent) and family constraints (31.3 per cent) are the reasons frequently cited as obstacles."

Claude Cardoso

Raising awareness and guiding employees

In the light of these trends, the CSL supports the implementation of a new model of individual career-long training rights based on four pillars. "The first is financial support, including a sufficient number of days of 'special training leave' (congé spécial formation) to encourage the acquisition of new skills or qualifications", continues Claude Cardoso. "The second is better information and communication about these issues. Thirdly, beneficiaries need to be better guided and oriented towards the aid and training opportunities available to them. Finally, we need to give them access to expertise in skills engineering, enabling them to choose the right training courses according to their qualifications, their aspirations and the needs of the job market."

This new model must contribute to maintaining a sustainable and inclusive economy. "It must be supported by both the state and companies, and also involve citizens, says Jeannine Kohn. Everyone wins by supporting a well-educated population. Individual lifelong learning must be seen as a right as essential as basic and secondary education."