In view of the digital and ecological transformation of the economy, education policy is a key element to ensure a socially just transformation. With this in mind, education policy is also a central element of the Slovenian Presidency and the European Commission. Hereby, particular attention is payed to adult learning and the perspective of lifelong learning.
Workplaces will be profoundly changed within the scope of the digital und ecological transformation. Hence, education policy is a key element to make this change socially just and inclusive in terms of a “Just Transition”. Insofar, employees shall be enabled to adjust to social developments by vocational education and training to counteract job losses and social exclusion. It is also of great importance to facilitate access of vulnerable and socially disadvantaged people to vocational education and training programmes.
Great potential in the area of adult learning
Based on the European Pillar of Social Rights, the EU has committed itself to the target of a social, just and inclusive Europe. One of its 20 principles refers to general education and vocational training as well as lifelong learning. The Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights includes the ambitious target to ensure that by 2030 at least 60 % of all adults will participate in training every year. Yet by 2016, only 37 % of adults and 18 % of low-skilled adults were taking part in such education programmes. The great demand for education policy measures also becomes clear in view of the fact that in accordance with the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) 128 million adults requiring further education and retraining are living in the Member States as well as in Iceland, Norway and the United Kingdom.
Education policy in the focus of the Slovenian Presidency
Education policy is one of the priorities of the current Slovenian Presidency. A new education agenda – the so-called “New European Agenda for Adult Learning 2030” (NEALL 2030) – is currently being prepared; hereby, the education ministers of the EU Member States intend to adopt a resolution on 29 November 2021. Adult learning as well as the perspective of lifelong learning shall be at the centre of this agenda, whereby particular importance will be paid to the inclusion of disadvantaged groups. The agenda will pursue a horizontal approach, whereby the green and digital transformation of society and its impacts on workplaces will be taken into account.
Plans of the European Commission
In 2020, the European Commission presented the European Skills Agenda, which comprises twelve complementary actions within the field of education policy. Proposals for the last two actions are currently being developed and will be presented by the Commission on 8 December. The first to be presented is the European approach to micro-credentials, i.e. certified skills acquired in training courses. Hereby, it is the Commission’s objective to create common standards for the definition of micro-credentials. A second initiative concerns so-called individual learning accounts. These are individual accounts for educational entitlements, which can be spent on education and training, advisory services as well as validation services.
Employees must benefit from training and further education
Vocational education and training as well as adult learning are vital to ensure that everyone is included in the green and digital transformation. It is, however, not only important to increase the willingness of employees to make use of such programmes. It is also essential to increase the readiness of employers to invest in vocational educationand training and to facilitate easy access for everyone. Not least, employers should also ensure that employees feel that engaging in vocational education and training is worthwhile, for example by providing better pay and career opportunities.
AK EUROPA Policy Brief: Action Plan on the Pillar of Social Rights and EU Social Summit: Social Realignment of the EU needed
AK EUROPA: Review auf den EU Social Summit in Porto
European Commission: Action Plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights
European Commission: European Skills Agenda - Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion