On 18 February 2021, the Social Economy Intergroup of the European Parliament held a public hearing on skills and digitalization. The digital transition of the economy gave rise to the need of new skills for workers across Europe. The EU has launched its European Skills Agenda and the Pact for Skills to address the need for reskilling and upskilling of workers. With this public hearing, actors of the Social Economy had the chance to show their role in this process.

The discussion was opened by Mr Nicolas Schmit, EU Commissioner for Employment and Social rights, who praised the Social Economy and ‘cooperative economics’ as a crucial business model for the future and for its important role in ensuring the meaningful implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. 

CECOP President Giuseppe Guerini addressed Commissioner Schmit and European lawmakers, presenting how worker and social cooperatives are at the forefront of the digital transition and provide the skills needed to live in the new digital economy. But the digital transition does not only require new skills of the workers, but business models need to adapt as well. With an increasing control of algorithms over workers, individualization and isolation of workers, we need business models that put the workers at the centre. Worker cooperatives have shown that they are important to ensure that the digital transition is just and human centred. 

In his intervention, Mr Guerini further showed the crucial role of social cooperatives in ensuring the inclusion of disadvantaged persons and persons with disabilities. By providing training and skill development, social cooperatives serve an important purpose in the digital inclusion. 

CECOP has commented on the European Skills Agenda before and is working, together with its partners of the social economy, to make the role of cooperatives in industry and services and the broader social economy in Europe visible.