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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 19 February 2014

Vassiliou in Athens: Education and creativity are key to innovation and employment

The future of education in Greece and Europe and the importance of the cultural and creative sectors for jobs and growth will be the focus of high-level meetings in Athens tomorrow (20 February). Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, will participate in the events.

The Commissioner will discuss the EU's education policies and the results of recent international studies on education and employability with the 'Teachers for Europe' network.

The Greek education system, like many others in Europe, faces considerable challenges. For example, the latest PISA study (Programme for International Student Assessment) by the OECD on the maths, science and reading skills of 15 year olds reveals that Greece is far from meeting the EU's target of reducing the level of low achievers to below 15% by 2020: in Greece the percentage of low achievers is 22.6% for reading and 35.7% in maths.

A recent study by McKinsey highlights that a lack of relevant skills is one of the main factors hampering young people's employability in Europe. In Greece, every second business-owner believes that this causes significant problems for their businesses. In addition, less than one in three young people believe that their post-secondary studies have improved their employment opportunities.

Commissioner Vassiliou commented: "The Greek education system needs to urgently address how it can ensure its young people make a successful transition into employment. The high levels of youth unemployment urgently call for better coordination between schools and the world of work. I am pleased that Greece is participating in the second round of the OECD's adult skills study, which will give us important insights about the skills of Greece's working age population. Our new programme for education, training and youth, Erasmus+, can also help young people to gain skills which will increase their employability.”

The Commission is also discussing the findings of PISA 2012 and the OECD's Survey of Adult Skills (Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, PIAAC) with Member States to help identify measures to remedy weaknesses. The next exchange will take place at the meeting of EU Education Ministers in Brussels on 24 February. The results will feed into the Commission's next 'European Semester' which produces country-specific recommendations in areas including education, research and skills.

Earlier in the day (09.30), the Commissioner will also address the 'Financing Creativity' conference, organised by the Greek Presidency of the Council of the EU. The event, taking place at the Athens Concert Hall and bringing together over 400 culture professionals and policy makers, will focus on what the EU and its Member States can do to improve access to finance for cultural and creative sectors, as well as discussing other measures to improve their prospects in the economy.

Commissioner Vassiliou will highlight the new Creative Europe programme, which aims to promote cultural and linguistic diversity and strengthen the competitiveness of the cultural and creative sectors. The programme will launch a new loan guarantee facility in 2016 to help companies and organisations in the field to obtain affordable finance.



The PISA survey has been carried out every three years since its launch in 2000. 34 OECD member countries and 31 partner countries participated in PISA 2012, representing more than 80% of the world economy. Around 510 000 pupils aged from 15 to 16 took part in the tests, which covered maths, reading and science, with the main focus on maths. The evidence base that PISA produces enables policy-makers and educators to identify the characteristics of high-performing education systems and to adapt their policies.

Creative Europe

Creative Europe entered into force on 1 January 2014. It builds on the experience and success of the Culture and MEDIA programmes which have supported the cultural and audiovisual sectors for more than 20 years. It also reflects on the strategy launched by the Commission in September 2012, aimed at unlocking the full potential of the sectors in to boost jobs and growth (IP/12/1012).

Creative Europe will help culture operators to fully exploit the opportunities created by globalisation and the digital shift. It will enable them to overcome challenges such as market fragmentation and access to finance, as well as contributing to better policy-making. With a budget of nearly €1.5 billion for its seven-year duration, an increase of 9% compared with previous budget levels, Creative Europe will provide a much-needed boost for the cultural and creative sectors, which are a major source of jobs and growth in Europe.

For more information

Creative Europe and Erasmus+

PISA 2012: EU performance and first inferences regarding education and training policies in Europe

PIAAC: Implications for education and training policies in Europe

Androulla Vassiliou’s speech about the McKinsey report

European Commission: Education and training

Androulla Vassiliou's website

Twitter: Androulla Vassiliou @VassiliouEU

Contacts :

Dennis Abbott (+32 2 295 92 58)

Dina Avraam (+32 2 295 96 67)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail

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