21 November, 2016 - Minister Bruton Attends European Council Meeting

The Minister for Education and Skills, Mr. Richard Bruton TD, today attended a meeting of the European Council of Education Ministers in Brussels.

During this meeting the European Ministers for Education:

·            adopted a Council Resolution on a New Skills Agenda for an inclusive and competitive Europe;

·            agreed to a Council Recommendation on establishing a Skills Guarantee;

·            adopted conclusions of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, on the prevention of radicalisation leading to violent extremism; and

·            engaged in a policy debate on fostering and developing talent in young people.

 

The European Skills Agenda will address three pressing challenges across Europe: the lack of relevant skills to match labour market needs; the insufficient transparency of skills and qualifications; and the difficulty to anticipate and forecast skills.

The new Skills Agenda for Europe launches a number of actions to ensure that the right training, the right skills and the right support is available to people in the European Union. It will aim at making better use of the skills that are available; equipping people with the new skills that are needed - to help them find quality jobs and improve their life chances.

The new Skills Guarantee aims to reduce the high number of low-skilled adults in Europe. It will be open to people both in work and out of work and be established in cooperation with social partners and education and training providers. The aim of the Skills Guarantee is to help people improve their chances of securing and maintaining good jobs and quality of life.

The draft conclusions on the prevention of radicalisation leading to violent extremism set out the preventive role of education and youth work as well as the security dimension of addressing radicalisation leading to violence. It emphasises cross-sectoral approaches to promoting inclusion and preventing radicalisation leading to violent extremism.

In relation to the adoption of the Council resolution on New Skills Agenda and the Council recommendation on establishing a Skills Guarantee Minister Bruton said: “Ireland supports the actions laid out in the Skills Agenda Package. Many of the actions laid out in the Package are in line with the comprehensive set of actions in our own new National Skills Strategy, which was launched in January of this year.”

 

“Ireland has already made significant progress to address the issue of adult education and skills provision through National and Regional Strategies and will continue to build on the progress of these strategies into the future.”

 

In relation to the policy debate on fostering and developing talent in young people that followed, the Minister said that “The labour market is constantly evolving and the specific occupations, skills and qualifications that are required change over time. The increasingly interdisciplinary nature of the world of work is also resulting in overlaps in the skills required across different sectors, occupations and Regions. A considerable amount of work has been undertaken over the past year in Ireland in order to address skills gaps that have arisen in certain sectors and regions and to work towards providing a system for responding to skills gaps as they arise.”

“Attracting and retaining talent is now one of the most important factors for job-creation in the EU. Ireland is developing ambitious actions in this area which will support the government’s target to create 200,000 additional new jobs by 2020. The new National Skills Strategy contains over 120 actions, involving over 50 stakeholders, and aims to provide a framework for skills development that will help drive Ireland’s growth both economically and societally over the next decade. The Strategy underlines the importance of key skills in the area of entrepreneurship and ICT skills.”

While in Brussels, the Minister also had the opportunity to have bilateral meetings with Mr. Evarist Bartolo, Minister for Education and Employment, Malta (Malta will take on Presidency of the EU in January 2017) and Commissioner Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Youth, Culture and Sports.

During these bilateral meetings, Minister Bruton explained that the Irish Government is continuing to ready itself to meet the challenge of Brexit and that Ireland faces unique challenges from Brexit, especially given our close ties with the UK, and the special situation in relation to Northern Ireland.

He pointed out that the Education priorities revolve around cooperation and sharing of experiences from different perspectives including student academic and researcher mobilities.

 

 ENDS

 

NOTES FOR THE EDITOR

 

Adoption of draft Council Resolution on a New Skills Agenda for an inclusive and competitive Europe - Adoption

The Council Resolution, as drafted, is a high-level document setting the context of the Commission’s new Skills Agenda for Europe against a background of new ways of working and growing demands for both transversal and digital skills amongst others. It takes note of the Commission initiative and supports the general thrust of its proposals. It particularly notes that education is not only for the labour market but also for the development of social inclusion and cohesion; that teachers need ongoing support and training; that involvement of all stakeholders in the development of education and training provision is essential; and, that the development of digital competences is especially important. It notes also that “the availability of adequate EU funding needs to be considered to ensure the viability of agreed actions under the new Skills Agenda for Europe”.

The European Skills Agenda was announced in the 2016 Commission Work Programme. It will support upward social convergence and contribute to the European Commission's first political priority, "A New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment" by addressing three pressing challenges of today's economies: the lack of relevant skills to match labour market needs; the insufficient transparency of skills and qualifications; and the difficulty to anticipate and forecast skills.

What does the New Skills Agenda bring?

 

The new Skills Agenda for Europe launches a number of actions to ensure that the right training, the right skills and the right support is available to people in the European Union. It will aim at making better use of the skills that are available; equip people with the new skills that are needed - to help them find quality jobs and improve their life chances. The Commission invites Members States, social partners, the industry and other stakeholders to work together to:

·         Improve the quality and relevance of skills formation

·         Make skills more visible and comparable

·         Improve skills intelligence and information for better career choices 

There are ten action items in relation to the Skills Agenda:

 

1.    A Skills Guarantee to help low-skilled adults acquire a minimum level of literacy, numeracy and digital skills and progress towards an upper secondary qualification.

2.    A review of the European Qualifications Framework for a better understanding of qualifications and to make better use of all available skills in the European labour market.

3.    The "Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition" bringing together Member States and education, employment and industry stakeholders to develop a large digital talent pool and ensure that individuals and the labour force in Europe are equipped with adequate digital skills.

4.    The ‘Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills’ to improve skills intelligence and address skills shortages in specific economic sectors.

5.    A "Skills Profile Tool for Third Country Nationals" to support early identification and profiling of skills and qualifications of asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants.

6.    A revision of the Europass Framework, offering people better and easier-to-use tools to present their skills and get useful real-time information on skills needs and trends which can help with career and learning choices.

7.    Making Vocational Education and Training (VET) a first choice by enhancing opportunities for VET learners to undertake a work based learning experience and promoting greater visibility of good labour market outcomes of VET.

8.    A review of the Recommendation on Key Competences to help more people acquire the core set of skills necessary to work and live in the 21st century with a special focus on promoting entrepreneurial and innovation-oriented mind-sets and skills.

9.    An initiative on graduate tracking to improve information on how graduates progress in the labour market.

10. A proposal to further analyse and exchange best practices on effective ways to address brain drain.