Education and training: emphasis on employability

How can education and training support the EU’s strategy to promote growth and jobs, and how, in particular, can they contribute to reducing youth unemployment? Those were the main topics discussed at the Council meeting on 10 February.

The numbers of unemployed in the EU are very high. Youth unemployment averages more than 20 %, reaching nearly 50 % in some member states. During their policy debate, education ministers put a clear emphasis on employability. It was regarded as essential to include practical and vocational elements alongside more theoretical and academic education to ensure a smooth transition from education to the labour market.

Many ministers agreed that one important way of improving the link between the worlds of education and work was to strengthen the practical elements in education and training programmes. An example is the dual approach which combines education and work experience, with internships as an integrated part of higher education. Furthermore, cooperation with the social partners should contribute to making curricula more relevant.

A number of ministers said that efforts were being made in their countries to increase substantially the number of apprenticeships and traineeships for young people in cooperation with the social partners. Some added that improving the recognition of skills and competences acquired through formal, non-formal and informal education and learning could also contribute to enhancing an individual’s job prospects.

Finally, a large number of Member States emphasised the need to mobilise available resources under EU funds and programmes, in order to help more young people get into work or training and to enhance their mobility.

Ministers adopted the 2012 joint report from the Council and the Commission on cooperation in the field of education and training in the years 2009-2011, and established priorities for the next cycle 2012-14. The report assesses progress over the last three years and establishes the priorities for the next work cycle (2012-2014), which are aimed to a large extent at mobilising education and training in support of the EU’s strategy for growth and jobs.

The report presents a mixed picture of progress, with some positive indications, but also much that still needs to be done to improve Europe’s skills base, further reduce rates of early school-leaving and improve the employability of those leaving the education and training system.

Source: Council of the European Union


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