More than three quarters of companies in the EU report difficulties in finding workers with the necessary skills, and latest figures from Eurostat suggest that only 37% of adults undertake training on a regular basis. In addition, already in 2021, 28 occupations had shortages, showing a growing demand for both high and low-skilled workers. The green and digital transitions are opening up new opportunities for people and the EU economy. Responding to this reality, the European Commission has adopted a proposal to make 2023 the European Year of Skills.
Education ministers adopted conclusions on 'skills and competences for the green transition' and discussed the issue of teacher shortages and attracting high-quality teachers as a cornerstone of a successful European Education Area (EEA).
The Swedish Presidency of the Council was launched on 1 January 2023. Until the end of June, they will hold the pen at Council meetings. During its presidency, Sweden will focus on four priority areas:
• Security – Unity: further economic and military support to Ukraine, focusing on the strength of partnerships and EU action and fighting cross-border organized crime;
• Competitiveness: a coordinated approach to European competitiveness with the single market as the basis for European prosperity, well-being and international standing and focusing on the optimal conditions for an open economy, private investment and successful digitalization;
• Green and energy transitions;
• Democratic values and the rule of law: the foundation of the EU (cohesion, individual freedoms, non-discrimination, increased economic output and global influence).
EU education ministers talked about the European Education Area in the light of the war in Ukraine. They agreed on measures to reduce the share of those leaving education and training early and to bring down under-achieving in reading, mathematics and science. A recommendation on pathways to school success calls on member states to develop strategies towards school success and to minimise the effects of socio-economic status on education and training outcomes.
The Council’s conclusions on well-being in digital education examine how digital learning environments can lead to better school outcomes.
The Education and Training Monitor's comparative report comprises a broad, cross-EU analysis of education and training systems to go alongside 27 more in-depth country reports. The comparative report tracks progress towards achieving the EU-level targets agreed as part of the strategic framework for European cooperation in the field. Seven EU-level targets have been set, and this report complements them with numerous supporting indicators to shed light on context and possible policy levers. In addition, the 2022 edition starts with a brand new EU-level indicator – developed in response to a request from the Council – to be used as a broad measure of the equity of EU education and training systems. The 2022 Education and Training Monitor accompanies a Commission progress report on the European Education Area.
The motto ‘Europe as a task: rethink, rebuild, repower’ is both a reference and a reminder of the need to keep striving for a modern and well-functioning Europe. The motto expresses the will to strengthen freedom, responsibility, security and prosperity.
During the preparation of the Digital Education Action Plan (2021-2027), extensive stakeholder consultations highlighted the need for reinforced cooperation and dialogue between stakeholders in the area of digital education.
The fragmentation of digital education policy, research and implementation practices at the European level were also raised as important issues slowing progress. Several structural issues related to digital education extend beyond context and sector.
To address these issues, the European Digital Education Hub brings together the community working on digital education and provides a dedicated space for its information-sharing and cooperation needs.
Ministers discussed the extent to which European Union education systems are equipped to deal with crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic or the war in Ukraine. They adopted a recommendation to further enhance the effectiveness of European cooperation in the field of higher education. They also adopted conclusions on a European strategy to strengthen the position of higher education institutions for Europe's future, and conclusions on increasing the mobility of teachers and trainers, in particular European mobility, during their initial and in-service training.
On 31 March 2022, the EU Education Ministers held a video conference chaired by Jean-Michel Blanquer, the French Education Minister. Mariya Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, also took part. The aim was to discuss concrete EU assistance to pupils, teachers and educational staff from Ukraine.