The skills that a person develops in the course of life depend on many factors. One of them is the functioning of the education and learning system in a given country. Education, training and labour market policies should respond to the needs of each country's economies and societies.

In order to understand which systems of skills development and activation perform better, deliver better results, translate into more adequate matching of these skills to the needs and challenges of the labour market, and stimulate sustainable and inclusive growth, it is necessary to look through the prism of accessible, reliable data, comparable between countries.

One of the tools for monitoring changes in this area is the European Skills Index (ESI), developed by Cedefop and available to researchers, practitioners and a wider audience. It makes it easier to monitor and compare skills systems between countries, and therefore can help identify areas for modification and improvement so that disparities between countries can be reduced.

Importantly, the index applies not only to skills development but also to two equally important aspects - skills activation and skills matching. Therefore, the ESI is a composite indicator and is based on a variety of data, such as the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the OECD PISA tests.

The indicator shows how much is missing from a given skills system to an ideal state. The higher the score, the closer to the ideal. The scale used is 0-100, with the benchmark score of 100 being set at the level of the best performance of any EU-28 country over the seven-year period, based on criteria for specific indicators. The difference between a given score and 100 shows the magnitude of the potential improvement.

Based on ESI 2020 data, the skills system in Poland ranks 11th with 66 points, which means that we are 34 points short of the benchmark. The Czech Republic (77) was highest in the ranking, and Italy was the lowest. Looking deeper, in the 3 main subcategories Poland's scoring is as follows: Skill Development - 54 points, Skill Activation - 68 and Skill Adaptation - 74 points. Compared to the ESI results from previous years,  visible progress in Poland is observed.

More about ESI on the CEDEFOP and European Skills Index websites