ETF director addresses European Parliament Members
New skills for new jobs was the title of a conference organised by the European Parliament’s Group of Socialist and Democrats in Brussels on 19 October. Madlen Serban, ETF director, presented the challenges of matching people’s skills with the demand of labour markets. She also proposed some policy options.
The conference, which brought together some eighty participants, including Commissioner Laszlo Andor, was very timely as the members of the European Parliament (MEPs) prepared for the following week’s plenary debate on the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs.
‘Employment is changing. It changes year on year, the pace of change is extraordinary. Young people therefore need to have the flexibility to take up jobs as they arise,’ said Mary Honeyball, MEP from United Kingdom. ‘We are at a new cultural paradigm: education is for its own sake, but it should also prepare for a life beyond school.’
Ms Serban gave an overview of the situation in ETF partner countries east and south of the EU. She drew attention to problem of ‘three-tier labour markets: formal, protected work; precarious work; and informal work’, coupled with labour market inflexibility and poor skills management.
Among possible policy options in this context she mentioned:
- Improving labour market functioning by reinforcing law enactment; prudent flexibilisation of employment protection legislation, tackling undeclared labour, and advocating decent working conditions;
- Improving governance of employment and education policies, including social partners’ – employers’ and employees’ representatives - genuine involvement and policy coordination;
- Improving policy monitoring and evaluation for evidence-based policy development;
- Implementing approaches for anticipating skills demand, starting with short-term needs assessment, focus on key economic sectors and industries
Ms Madlen stressed the need to adapt policies to the contexts of the countries to prioritise among policies.
Put simply, lifelong learning means that people can – and should have the opportunity to – learn throughout their lives.
Increased labour mobility across borders brings the skills issue onto the international agenda so the ETF also focuses on policy actions related to skills and employment of both emigrants and returnees.
The ETF aims to develop the capacity of partner country institutions and other stakeholders in developing, monitoring and reviewing policies in the areas of entrepreneurial learning and enterprise skills.
“Employment”: promoting better functioning and inclusive labour markets and vocational education and training systems in ETF partner countries.
The ETF's role in qualifications is to provide expertise for the reform of qualifications systems in partner countries, in their various stages of planning and implementation.
Teachers are a critical factor in education reforms. The ETF takes therefore the role of schools and teachers seriously throughout its work.
Quality assurance is provided through the development of methodological instruments to facilitate a structured policy learning process, integrating quality assurance principles, and reinforcing the quality assurance dimension in the Torino Process.
Governance modes and models have a high correlation with the overall performance of education and training policies, influencing their strategic formulation and implementation.