The publication last month of OECD’s first skills survey of adults aged 16-65 emphasised critical weaknesses in the European labour force in the areas of literacy, numeracy and digital skills.
As the EP Committee for Culture & Education meets this week to vote on the agreement reached with the Council on Erasmus+, we focus on how the EU seeks to adapt education and training systems to address skills gaps and mismatches. By developing knowledge and competences geared to the needs of the labour market and upgrading European citizens’ qualifications and skills, the EU aims to improve employment prospects.
Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes
With Rethinking Education, the EU sets out to deliver the right skills for employment and to improve the outcomes of young people with a high risk of leaving school early and low basic skills. A focus on vocational education and training (VET) and transversal skills such as entrepreneurial initiative, digital skills and foreign languages, aims to increase student employability by helping the transition from learning to work and promoting work-based learning.
By 2020 90% of jobs will require digital skills – fostering innovative teaching and learning through new technologies
Opening up education extends the benefits of new technologies to all aspects of education, from schools and universities through to vocational education and informal learning. The action plan defines three main areas:
- creating opportunities for organisations, teachers and learners to innovate;
- increased use of Open Educational Resources (OER), ensuring that educational materials produced with public funding are available to all; and
- better ICT infrastructure and connectivity in schools.
Promoting EU student mobility
Lots of students have benefited from the opportunity to study abroad. The new EU Education, training, youth and sport programme Erasmus+ will give students, apprentices, educators and adult learners an opportunity to spend time in another Member State or a third country and establishes a new loan guarantee scheme for Masters’ students.
Did you ever have a problem getting your national qualification recognised in a different country? The European Qualifications Framework (EQF) acts as a translation device to make national qualifications more readable across Europe. To complement this framework the Commission recommends the validation of non-formal and informal learning (NFIL). NFIL are learning, skills and competences acquired outside of a traditional teaching and learning setting, for example through volunteering, participation in extra-curricular activities, or in daily life. NFIL validation benefits early school leavers, volunteers and young people without professional experience.
Keeping the EU attractive for international students – Modernising and internationalising Higher Education (HE)
With its internationalisation strategy the EU aims to ensure that:
- European graduates gain the international skills required in a globalised world; and
- Europe remains the most attractive destination for international students (approx. 45% of which study in Europe) as the number of higher education students in the world is expected to reach 400 million by 2030.
To achieve this, universities need to promote an international outlook by developing the international dimension in curricula and partnerships, promoting language skills and expanding digital learning (for example, developing MOOCs).
To help increase the visibility of European HE institutions, a multidimensional ranking instrument, U-Multirank, has been developed. The first results will be published early next year. It will rate some 500 universities from Europe and beyond according to a broad range of factors in five separate areas: reputation for research, quality of teaching and learning, international orientation, success in knowledge transfer, and contribution to regional growth.
For your eyes only…
For Members and EP staff only, we also hold subscriptions to subject-relevant academic full-text e-journals, notably European Journal of Education, European Education, European Journal of Higher Education and European Educational Research Journal. Our information specialists monitor what think tanks and research institutes say on Education and post the most interesting papers on our Library Area Page on Culture & Education. Freshly picked from there:
- The employability of young graduates in Europe: Analysis of the ET2020 benchmark/ JRC
- Return to learning, return to work/ CEDEFOP
- Creating, Using and Sharing Open Educational Resources / Commonwealth of Learning
The Library also has a selection of e-books on the subject of Education:
- The university in the age of globalization rankings, resources, and reforms/ Brada, Josef C.; Stanley, Gordon ; Bieńkowski, Wojciech. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012
- Lifelong learning in Europe equity and efficiency in the balance/ Riddell, Sheila ; Markowitsch, Jorg ; Weedon, Elisabet. Bristol: The Policy Press, 2012
- Innovations in mobile educational technologies and applications/ Parsons, David. Hershey, Pa.: IGI Global, 2013
To keep up-to-date on Education, MEP’s offices and EP staff can subscribe to an e-mail alert that delivers both our in-house analysis and hand-picked external info sources direct to your inbox.