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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 30 October 2013

Education and Training Monitor highlights impact of budget cuts and skills mismatch

Sixteen Member States1 decreased their spending on education between 2008 and 2011, with six2 showing further significant budget decreases in 2012, according to the latest Education and Training Monitor released today by the European Commission. The 2013 Education and Training Monitor provides a picture of each country's progress in relation to specific benchmarks and indicators, and highlights the latest policy developments and analysis. Accompanied by 28 individual country reports and an online visualisation tool, it provides a wealth of data to facilitate evidence-based policy making across Europe.

"The data provided by the annual Education and Training Monitor is invaluable because it allows Member States to compare themselves against others and encourages decision-makers to invest efficiently in modernising their education systems to improve quality and results. This is vital if we are to ensure that young people are equipped with the skills they need to succeed in life," commented Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.

This year's Monitor confirms a fall in the employment rate of recent graduates with at least an upper secondary education qualification: only 76% are now finding jobs compared with 82% in 2008. While the employment advantage of a university degree is still evident in all Member States, one in five of the EU working population with tertiary qualifications are in jobs that usually require lower qualifications. In spite of high levels of unemployment, this suggests a worrying mismatch between the skills delivered by education and training systems and those required by the labour market.

Europe 2020 headline target: steady progress

The rate of early leavers from education and training continues to decrease, standing at 12.7%. The EU target for 2020 is 10% or less. With the unemployment rate among early school leavers at just over 40%, the biggest challenge lies in the transition from school to work. This is facilitated through quality traineeships, apprenticeships and 'dual learning' models, which combine education with practical experience. Students from vocational education and training programmes experience a better transition from education to work in Member States with developed work-based learning. Similarly the move from work back to learning requires closer attention, with less than 1% of 18 to 24 year-olds in non-formal learning after having left formal education.

With the tertiary attainment rate slowly increasing, now at 35.7% compared with the Europe 2020 target of 40%, the policy focus is shifting towards reducing drop-out rates, enhancing quality and relevance and promoting the international mobility of students. International mobility in higher education increases the probability of mobility after graduation and can help in tackling skills mismatches and bottlenecks in European labour market.

Other key findings of the Education and Training Monitor:

  • Inequality is still a feature of many education and training systems in Europe. This is reflected by strong weaknesses in the skills and qualifications of groups such as young people with a migrant background. These inequalities have severe consequences for individuals, economic progress and social cohesion, yet the success of Member States in tackling this problem varies greatly.

  • Demographic trends strongly affect the teaching profession: in many Member States the majority of teachers are in the highest age bracket, with very few teachers under 30. A rethink is needed on how to attract, recruit and educate the best candidates, in addition to ensuring they are supported in their professional development throughout their careers.

  • Europe is lagging behind in the development of Open Educational Resources (OER) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Although digital technologies are fully embedded in the way people interact, work and trade, they are not being fully exploited in European education and training. While 70% of teachers in the EU recognise the importance of ICT-supported training, only 20% of students are taught by digitally confident and supportive teachers.

Skills: back to basics

New evidence from the OECD's recent Survey of Adult Skills (IP/13/922) provides a clearer picture of the skill levels of Europe's working-age population. One in five adults in the EU does not exceed a basic level of literacy and for numeracy this is almost one in four.

The results also underline the need for increased lifelong learning. Adult participation in lifelong learning stands at less than 10% and is most prevalent among the young and highly educated, rather than those who need it most.

In addition to basic skills, only half of the EU population aged 15 and above agree that their school education helped them to develop entrepreneurial competences. Efforts to develop entrepreneurial skills are needed to support new business creation, employee innovation, and to advance employability among young people. Entrepreneurship education is an indispensable tool to drive up the economic benefits of education.

Background

The annual Education and Training Monitor, the first of which was presented in November 2012, examines the evolution of Europe’s education and training systems. As well as specific benchmarks and indicators, it also takes recent and upcoming studies and policy developments into account. New technical reports, such as a study on drop-out from higher education and a study on learning mobility add to the evidence provided by the 2013 Monitor.

The strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020) supports reforms in Member States aimed at boosting growth and jobs. The Education and Training Monitor is an annual report presented every autumn by the Commission, setting out progress on the ET 2020 benchmarks and core indicators, including the Europe 2020 headline target on education and training (see Annex).

For more information

The European Online Education and Training Monitor

Full report with key findings

28 country reports

Online visualisation tool

New reports used in the 2013 Monitor

NESET report on drop-out from higher education

JRC-CRELL reports used in the 2013 Monitor

European Commission: Education and training

Androulla Vassiliou's website

Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58); Twitter: @DennisAbbott

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)

Annex: Targets in education and training

Current

Target

Headline target

1

Early leavers from education and training

The share of the population aged 18-24 fulfilling the following two conditions: (1) the highest level of education or training attained equals International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) level 0, 1, 2 or 3c short; (2) respondents declared not having received any education or training in the four weeks preceding the survey. Data comes from the EU Labour Force Survey.

12.7% (2012)

Below 10% (2020)

2

Tertiary education attainment

The share of the population aged 30-34 years who have successfully completed university or university-like (tertiary-level) education that equals International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) level 5 or 6. Data comes from the EU Labour Force Survey.

35.7% (2012)

At least 40% (2020)

Other targets

1

Early childhood education and care

The share of the population aged 4 to the age when the compulsory education starts who is participating in early education. Data comes from the UOE data collection.

93.2% (2011)

95% (2020)

2

Achievement in reading, maths and science

The share of 15-year-olds failing to reach Level 2 in reading, mathematics and science as measured by the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

Reading: 19.6% (2009)

Maths: 22.2% (2009)

Science: 17.7% (2009)

15% (2020)

3

Employment rate of recent graduates

The share of employed people aged 20-34 having successfully completed upper secondary or tertiary education 1 to 3 years before the reference year of the survey and who are no longer in education or training. Data comes from the EU Labour Force Survey.

75.7% (2012)

82% (2020)

4

Adult participation in lifelong learning

The share of the population aged 25-64 who stated that they received formal or non-formal education or training in the four weeks preceding the survey. Data comes from the EU Labour Force Survey.

9.0% (2012)

15% (2020)

1 :

IE, UK, ES, PT, DK, EE, LV, LT, PL, SK, RO, BG, EL, IT, CY, HU

2 :

UK, PT, L EL, CY, IT


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