Ireland-UK, EIT Health Ireland-UK

Celebrating Europe Day: A look back on the European Year of Skills

9th May 2024

Today is Europe Day, which marks the historic presentation of the Schuman Declaration on 9 May 1950. This month also marks the end of the ‘European Year of Skills’ which was launched by the European Commission in 2023 with the objective of “a Europe fit for the digital age” and promoted a mindset of reskilling and upskilling to help people develop the right skills for the most in-demand jobs. To celebrate Europe Day, we take a closer look at various initiatives by EIT Health which supported the aims of the European Year of Skills.

Why we need to bridge the skills gap in health

2020 report by the European Commission stated that “shortages of software skills are now omnipresent” across Europe. The pandemic has not only boosted demand for tech-enabled healthcare services, with 90% of all jobs in health soon to require an element of digital skills, but it has also widened the skills gap, placing stress on existing healthcare systems.

With digital health technologies and tools to support personalised medicine set to become more prevalent over the coming years, digital upskilling is now of major importance and requires adequate investment across both industry and European healthcare systems.

How EIT Health has supported the European Year of Skills

The European Year of Skills sets out a fresh impetus for lifelong learning, by boosting competitiveness, participation and talent. There are several ongoing initiatives at EIT Health which support this:

·      Work in Health Foundation

EIT Health’s WorkInHealth Foundation aims to combat the talent shortage by promoting healthcare as a sector in which talent can thrive in Europe, particularly in the areas of digital, commercial, and innovation. As Europe’s largest health innovation network, EIT Health links industry and academia, tapping into both recruiters and candidates, to match talent across the sector via activities such as career fairs. To date these events have connected 970+ talents with 50+ companies over 370+ 1:1 meetings.

·      Pact for Skills

In December 2023, EIT Health was selected as the coordinator of the Skills Partnership for the European Health Industry, a new industry-led Pact for Skills in healthcare. Currently, there are 14 established Pact for Skills partnerships in various strategic sectors. These partnerships set specific ‘Pact pledges’ that aim to upskill up to six million people across Europe and encourage collaboration between public and private organisations to advance the upskilling and reskilling of the European workforce.

This new health industry-led Pact for Skills will concentrate on enhancing the skills and education of workers in the healthcare sector, encompassing pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and personal protective equipment (PPE) – areas where Ireland is currently very competitive. Over fifty organisations, including Ireland-based EIT Health partners Trinity College Dublin and University of Galway, have signed up for the pact.

·      Innovation Days

Innovation Days (i-Days) are challenge-based learning events where students develop innovation and entrepreneurial skills. Using design thinking methods, they participate in teams to brainstorm solutions to tackle real-life health challenges, and perfect their pitch to expert judges. Each year, EIT Health supports academic institutions to organise the competition, encouraging students to help shape the future of healthcare.

In 2023, i-Days events took place across 23 cities in Europe. In Ireland, Atlantic Technological University, Sligo (ATU Sligo), Dundalk Institute of Technology (DkIT), and University of Galway hosted i-Days across three weeks in October with over 200 students coming together to collaborate on ideas to advance healthcare innovation. The student team representing University of Galway at the pan-European i-Days finals, RecoverKnee, took home the first place trophy, the first time a team from Ireland had won the overall competition.

The i-Days competition was also nominated for a prestigious Irish Healthcare Centre Award in the category of ‘Student Programme’ in 2023.

Contribute to EIT Health’s activities and expertise in skills development

The next WorkInHealth career fair takes place 22 and 23 May. This pan-European online event connects talent with recruiters to tackle the healthcare sector’s talent crunch. Sign up now.

If your organisation would like to join the industry-led Pact for Skills, get in touch today.

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