On the 10th of June the European Commission launched an initiative for jobs, growth and competitiveness in the EU called the New Skills Agenda for Europe. This initiative includes proposals such as the Skills Guarantee, and revision of the frameworks of key competences and European Qualifications. The agenda also had a high level launch event today in Brussels, where it was introduced with around 400 participants coming from different civil society organisations and member states. Board member Oona Heiska was present at the launch event.

The event included remarks from Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Tibor Navracsics and European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, as well as a panel with high level officials from the Commission and Parliament as well as OECD and Maltese government. The discussion at the event can be greatly found on social media using the hashtag #EUSkillsAgenda.

OBESSU welcomes the discussion towards improvement of education that can be visible from the New Skills Agenda. Vocational education and training (VET) are raised as important tools for reducing unemployment and more emphasis is to be put upon this; especially in the skills Guarantee where skills needed can be acquired from VET education. In addition to this the New Skills Agenda adresses the need for recognition of qualifications which will make it easier to get benefit from education provided and makes it comparable and transparent.

However on the other hand the New Skills Agenda in many points fails to take a holistic approach on education. OBESSU believes that education should not be just to meet the needs of the labour market but to serve as a mean for students to become active citizens in the society as well as have personal development according to their needs. Thus education should not only provide skills for the labour market but skills for life. OBESSU is also concerned of the emphasis on the public-private relationships between educational institutions and businesses as OBESSU believes that the curricula should be planned with the learner in the center and not to benefit individual businesses.

OBESSU is going to continue following the topic and hopes from the Commision that the dialogue is open and active including all the important stakeholders as this is crucial for the success of the implementation and outcomes of the agenda. It is important to take into account the modern world and learners needs as important factors when discussing education in this context.

Read more on the Skills Agenda at the EC dedicated website.