How Inclusive Skills Can Boost the Circular Economy: Recommendations from Social Enterprises

by | Sep 19, 2023 | Position Papers, Publications

RREUSE has published a new Position Paper highlighting data on skills from its network and policy recommendations for the 2023 European Year of Skills

Social enterprises carry a long tradition of providing inclusive circular upskilling and reskilling to vulnerable groups. They foster manual circular skills necessary for a circular economy, social cohesion and job creation. Rather than outdated, manual re-use and repair-related skills are essential to power an efficient circular economy.

Besides green skills, social enterprises active in the circular economy guarantee access to technology and promote foundational and advanced digital skills, including those fostering the green transition. Finally, they promote cognitive and interpersonal skills like self-motivation and teamwork, crucial for acquiring any skills for the twin transition.

Despite construction professionals, repair specialists, waste management trainers, and re-use experts being among the most needed professions for greening our societies, social enterprises face obstacles in setting up training programmes. Reasons include lack of funding, data on skills for the circular and social economies, qualifications recognition, or cooperation with VET systems and public authorities.

The 2023 European Year of Skills calls on the EU Institutions and Member States to focus on policy interventions that promote skills for all people. In light of this, RREUSE brings forward the following recommendations:


  • Recognise social enterprises as skills providers, including for the green transition, in labour market policies.
  • Enhance the recognition of skill qualifications provided by social economy enterprises.
  • Allow social enterprises greater flexibility to adapt the work integration programme’s duration to disadvantaged individuals’ needs.
  • Address the lack of data on skills needed for a circular economy.
  • Adapt Vocational Education and Training (VET) to promote a learner-centric and inclusive approach to skills.
  • Ensure everyone can access upskilling and reskilling opportunities.
  • Enhance demand for circular skills.
  • Raise awareness of European and national-level funding opportunities.
  • Adapt academic curricula to promote green social entrepreneurship among the youth.


Cover Photo by Julia Schmidt from Pexels; Year of Skills banner – European Commission