"Investing in People ̶ the Way Forward", a conference on the future of the European Social Fund, discussed the challenges of EU human capital policies in Sofia. The delegates outlined the direction for the future financing of investments in people after 2020 and shared opinions on how to change the current model in order to implement in practice the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights and achieve equal opportunities and access to the labor market, fair working conditions and better social protection.
Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, commented: "I do hope that our leaders will acknowledge the importance of investing massively in people in order to implement concretely the European Pillar of Social Rights."
“The European Social Fund investments undoubtedly reach the people,” said Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev. “Today we speak about digitalisation but we do not pay enough attention to the grave social challenges that are the dark side of this process. We should think about what we do, the way we work and the way we support the digital minorities that would certainly become a problem in 5-10 years. In 10 years, a person who is not digitally literate will be heavily marginalised, will have fewer job opportunities and will not be able to actively participate in society.”
Jean Arthuis, Chair of the Committee on Budgets, European Parliament, said that mobility and studying should be combined. “We will have to convince Member States that we have to go in the direction of the convergence of legislation on the promotion of apprenticeship,” he said.
“The world of work is changing completely. Skills should be our focus but also the investment in people,” said Michel Servoz, Director-General for Employment at the European Commission.
“The Bulgarian Presidency views the social focus of the next budget as the only way for Europe to achieve its goals and have a future,” said Zornitsa Roussinova, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy of Bulgaria. She added that every third person in Bulgaria has taken advantage of the European Social Fund. So far, 800 000 Bulgarians have completed ESF-financed trainings that have supported their integration in the labour market.
Over 350 representatives of EU institutions, national, regional, local and public authorities, social partners, civil society organizations, academics and other stakeholders took part in the conference.