EuropeActive’s Educational Services Department recently attended the Making Skills Count Conference on 8-9 June 2023. As one of the major events of the European Year of Skills, it aimed to explore how skills ‘count’ for individuals, organisations and, at a systems level. The conference stimulated discussions among leading experts, policymakers and key stakeholders from the field and showcase initiatives and tools addressing skills-related challenges.

European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit’s opening address underlined how skills have always been high on the EU agenda and are now more important than ever. With demographic and technological changes, post-Covid shifts, some industries such as hospitality, care and health are facing up to 100,000 job vacancies- which is in line with previous EuropeActive estimates of 104,000 vacant positions in the fitness and physical activity sector based on Cedefop EU data (Cedefop’s Skills-OVATE) and annual Employer Skills Surveys that concluded only 16% of employers in the Sector find staff with the required skills.

The Commissioner further emphasised that skill shortages is Europe’s core challenge at present (rather than unemployment skills), along with the nature of skills. Though IT skills are increasingly important, broader skills such creativity, communication, team work or problem solving have come into sharper focus. This shift in skills requirement has again been evidenced in our own Sector where 67% of employers rate personal/communication skills as essential whereas only 41% rate specific technical skills (fitness instruction/personal training) as so important (EuropeActive Employer Survey, 2021).

On day two of the Conference, Margaritis Schinas, European Commission Vice President for Promoting our European Way of Life, spoke of the need to give value to skills and called for ‘a de-Brusselised skills revolution for all of Europe’. While the EU is investing around 65 billion Euros into skills, changes must take place closer to the ground- as the Vice President emphasised, the current skills shortages and mismatches are becoming endemic to Europe signalling the need for a ‘skills revolution’.

Throughout a number of highly informative panel sessions, a key theme was the need for industries to analyse where they are in terms of skills ‘acquired’ and needed. This should involve all key stakeholders from social partners (employers), to training providers and policy makers. It was also repeatedly stressed that investment in skills by individuals and organisations must link to the quality of the job offer. Pay, working conditions, work life balance, in-job training and opportunities for progression and career development are key concerns in underpinning the drive and motivation for investment in skills.

Within our Sector, EuropeActive recognises the need for on-going skills analysis and in 2023 is planning a THiNKactive Workforce Analysis and Report. This report will explore structural and functional demand-supply challenges for the European industry regarding the workforce and, the implications for exercise professionals and key stakeholders (operators, training providers, policy makers, etc.).  It is also planned that this will include a ‘job task analysis’ to identify current and needed skills. Additional elements will include salary/compensation and career progression.

If you would like to be involved in shaping skills development in the European fitness and physical activity Sector please join us for this year’s 14th International Standards Meeting, in Madrid. In keeping with 2023 being the European Year of Skills and, to promote the value and visibility of skills this year’s prestigious event is entitled, ‘Skills and Workforce Development Towards EuropeActive’s 2025 Horizon’ and will discuss in detail the THINKactive Workforce Analysis and Report as well as exploring many key areas of skill development. Join us in Madrid and let’s Make Skills Count!


Jun 15, 2023 By Anna Miskovicova