european students’ union

ESU welcomes the new Skills Agenda but warns it can become a double edge sword

June 10, 2016

While ensuring that all citizens have the possibility to be equipped with adequate skills, many initiatives within the Skills Agenda are planned to primarily serve short-term labour market needs instead of the big societal challenges that Europe faces nowadays.

Today, the European Commission launched the New Skills Agenda for Europe, a new initiative for sustaining jobs, growth and competitiveness in the European Union. This initiative is led by the Commissioner Thyssen, in charge of Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, and contains a series of proposals, among others a Skills Guarantee, a revision of the Key Competences Framework and of the European Qualification Frameworks.

“We welcome the initiative of the Commission which aims to ensure that European citizens have accessible education and training and equal opportunities regardless of their background or age”, says Fernando Galan, ESU President. “However, we in ESU are deeply concerned that these proposals are looked upon mainly from a perspective of the labour market, with little attention given to the point of view of the education sector and its role in building a more inclusive and equitable Europe alongside the Paris Declaration”, Fernando continues.

The new Skills Agenda for Europe could become a double edge sword if it is not aligned with other Commission initiatives such as the Paris Declaration. Clear targets need to be set  on those relevant skills for active citizenship and living together in our modern societies. Our education and training systems should reflect the model of society that we want for Europe: one where critical minds participate actively in their diverse and inclusive communities.

“I agree with commissioner Thyssen’s aim to unlock Europe’s full potential by ensuring adequate education and training opportunities for everyone, but those have to serve all different purposes of education” says Fernando Galan. “We all have seen the outcomes of focusing education and training policies only in short-term labour market needs leaving during the past few years: an increase in extremism and radicalisation”, he continues.

ESU would like to see the Commission engage in an open and active dialogue with the stakeholders, including those of the education sector, in order to develop further the proposals included in the Skills Agenda as well as in their future implementation. Access to skills for all and modernisation of teaching and learning should be a priority for tackling skills challenges in Higher Education.

See full ESU response to EU Skills Agenda.

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