European Education, Training and Youth Forum 2014: Future priorities of the ET 2020 strategic framework

October 09, 2014 to October 10, 2014
Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, comments on the ambitious agenda of the Juncker Commission. The most important challenge is the ‘29th member state’, the large group of young unemployed. Implementing the agenda will require sustainable funding for education. Reference to achievements of her work as a Commissioner, focusing on the Erasmus+ programme, on the policy paper ‘Rethinking education’ that invited to think out of the box, and on the ‘Opening up education’ initiative. Europe 2020 and the European Semester also address reform needs in education and training; the role of education and training in the strategy has been strengthened. This year the Commission will take stock of what ET 2020 delivered; this stakeholders forum is a key building block, the Commission is in listening mode. Silvia Costa, Chair of the Culture and Education Committee, European Parliament This Forum is an important step in defining the future priorities of ET 2020. The European Parliament will be committed to strengthen the role of education and training in Europe 2020. Future priorities mentioned are languages, accessibility of education, early school leaving, digital skills. Investments in education and training will be necessary, as education and culture are key elements for sustainable development. The Parliament insists on the need for a holistic approach of education by the future Commissioner.

Opening session
Challenges and priorities
Towards a new EU agenda for Education, Training and Youth
Xavier Prats Monne, DG for Education and Culture, European Commission
This is a personal statement, the priorities are to be defined by the new Commissioner.
The big difference between the EU and the rest of the world, is that, in Europe, there is a lack of confidence in our future, a lack of confidence in our education. If Europe wants to gain confidence in its own future, it has to gain confidence in its own education, and trust in its teachers.
Five clear issues will be priorities:
 Early School Leaving (headline target);
 Tertiary Education attainment (headline target);
 Innovation in education (use of new technologies to improve educational outcomes; U-multirank, importance of interdisciplinarity that is lacking now; not only focus on equity, not only focus on excellence, also focus on the impact of schools and universities in society);
 Funding and efficiency of spending in education;
 Youth (bring together youth and education stakeholders; formal, non formal and informal learning).
The governance of these priorities will be the task of ET 2020. The philosophy of ET 2020 is to contribute to the core business of Europe 2020, on what really matters at EU-level, without ignoring the needs of stakeholders.
Conclusion: Let’s have the courage of embracing change and turning it into an opportunity.

Results from the stakeholder survey
Presentation of the results of the survey and of the recent Youth Work Study
The priorities that were mentioned most often by the respondents (114 responses):

    Importance of lifelong learning and mobility
     Employability and transition between education and the labour market
     Creativity, innovation and the use of ICT in education
     Equal access to education and training opportunities for all
     Key competences, i.e. social and civic competences, entrepreneurship, basic and numeracy skills
     Entrepreneurship at all levels of education and training
     Quality and efficiency of education and training in general, and of VET in particular
     Improvement of teachers’ training and appreciation of the teaching profession
     Adult education and participation

Challenges and priorities for a new agenda – a view from a panel of stakeholders.
In the panel: Marcello Limina, Chair of the Education Committee, EU Council of Ministers, Italian Presidency; David Lopez, president EUCIS-LLL; Martin Romer, Director ETUCE; Maxime Cerutti, Director of Social Affairs, Business Europe; Allan Päll, Secretary General, European Youth Forum; Caroline Jenner, CEO JA-YE Europe.
Some key ideas:

    Importance of synergy between different sectors: working together with youth will be a key priority for education and training
     Importance of effective investing
     Focus on few priorities in order to be effective
     Priority of YA-YE: not enough access to good entrepreneurship education; need to invest in teacher training and need for cooperation between policy levels
     Priority of the Italian Presidency: the economic case for education
     EUCIS-LLL agrees with the need for a holistic approach, and states that the link between education and social inclusion is not sufficiently addressed; insists on the need for more stakeholder involvement and participation in EU policy making
     ETUCE states that ET 2020 has had a positive impact, but there are huge challenges ahead: poverty, unemployment, low skilled adults, .. We need to concentrate on investments in teachers, on ICT, focus more on how to get a holistic view on education (our discussions now are often too fragmented). We need to adapt our discussions to the reality on the ground. Need to convince government that reforms will not be sustainable in education, if there is no ownership by the stakeholders. Convince governments to invest in education and to build strong social dialogue.
     Business Europe: increase effectiveness of investments in education, focus on the skills mismatch, importance of the global dimension of education, the global race for talent.
     European Youth Forum: it is crucial to be aware of the fact that formal education and training do not have the monopoly for learning
     Main topics discussed are related to entrepreneurship education
     A lot of attention for dual learning and apprenticeships
    Questions from the audience deal with
     The role of digital technologies in education and training (also non formal)
     Is it all about entrepreneurship and economy? What about the role of education for building attitudes, for citizenship, ..
     Too little attention for early childhood education and care: investing here is crucial. Spread the money better on only few priorities.
     Huge ambitions by the EU for education and training, whilst in the countryspecific recommendations member states are urged to cut budgets.
     What about the NEET’s (not in employment, education, training)? Is this group not a priority for education? Or does it rather belong to the field of social inclusion policy?
     Linkages between education and youth work

1. Promoting excellence and innovation
2. Tackling the low-skills gap
3. Supporting a new generation of educators
4. Recognizing and valuing skills and competences
5. Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship
EUNEC participated at the workshop on promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship. The workshop focused on the main findings from the only survey related to this topic. Impact of ET2020 on this objective is somewhat limited. Many respondents feel that the social dimension of ET2020 has been neglected in favour of other priorities.
Questions for the participants: How can we best reduce inequalities in education systems and tackle disparities in learning outcomes, especially for learners from disadvantaged backgrounds or with special needs? How can formal education draw greater benefit from experiences gained in youth work towards more inclusive learning? How can education systems adapt to an increasingly diverse learning environment?

On the second day of the Forum, 30 proposals are presented as a result of the workshops, six proposals for each of the five workshop domains.
1. Recognition for excellence & innovation in teaching; systemic mobility non-formal/formal ET; collaboration education and world of work; innovation part of teachers’ training; national best practice EU funded & shared; diverse pathways to tertiary education.
2. Promote community-based learning; prioritise initiatives for lifelong learning; reinforce trans-sectoral cooperation; focus on family (early tracking); holistic cross-sectoral approach.
3. Experiences outside educational organisation; help educators network and collaborate; excellent educators/learners’ diversity; create future schools today; enhance educators to become professional; enable educators to let learners shine.
4. Take stock of validation and recognition tools; common understanding competences: implementation; high-quality label to encourage recognition; validation of non-formal and informal learning in all relevant EU policies; validation of soft/transversal skills; information & guidance to support validation.
5. Flagship EU initiative to address inequality; treat children and young people as competent; educational workforce: equity, diversity and inclusion; family support, parents, early childhood; systematic strategy management of diversity; funding to promote participatory school
The representatives of DG EAC comments on the proposals and insist on the fact that the new structure of the European Commission is not a problem but an opportunity. VET will absolutely not be detached from general education. VET will be at the core of education policies in Europe. Education will be brought into employment.
In the final session, synergies and new approaches coming out of the workshops, are presented.

Questions from stakeholders in the final questions and answers session deal with:

    The importance of adult education. If adult education moves to DG Employment, please don’t forget adult education that is not for employment
     Dealing with failure is crucial, the competence of risk taking is important for entrepreneurship
     If talking about cross-sectoral policy, don’t forget health (Paul Downes)
     The youth perspective is not sufficiently present in this Education, Training and Youth Forum