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

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.

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