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Council discusses education: investing in skills

In support of the 2014 European Semester, EU education ministers adopted conclusions on efficient and innovative education and training to invest in skills.

Ministers emphasised that the EU education and training systems should play a  fundamental role in ensuring that young people and low-skilled adults acquire skills and competences that match the needs of today's labour market.

With a view to increasing the visibility of education and training in the 2014 European Semester, the Council agreed to focus on:

  • facilitating long-term investment in the modernisation of education and training and the development of skills
  • equipping people in all age groups with better and more relevant skills
  • smoothing the transition from school to work, notably by promoting work-based schemes
  • continuing to modernise and improve educational methods and making full use of the digital learning opportunities.

The conclusions invite the member states to adopt effective and inclusive education and training policies which take due account of the needs of learners with disadvantaged backgrounds and to incorporate digital forms of learning into mainstream education.

The conclusions are a first response to the education aspects of the 2014 Annual Growth Survey, which launches the European Semester, and to the findings of the two recent surveys by the OECD: PISA and PIAAC. 

Council conclusions on efficient and innovative education and training  to invest in skills

PISA and PIAAC surveys

The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) survey measured the performance of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science. The results showed  poor performance in mathematics and brought to light a serious issue concerning inconsistent quality of education across the EU. 

The PIAAC survey, which measured similar skills of the adult population, showed that one in five European adults has low literacy and numeracy skills, and one in four has inadequate digital skills.

These results confirmed the findings of the Commission's analysis, Education and Training Monitor 2013.

Other topics on the agenda

Ministers held a policy debate on skills and employability in the light of the PIAAC and PISA results. The debate focused on two main issues:

  • how to better understand the evolution of skills requirements in the labour market
  • how to make education policies more responsive to those changing needs.

The outcome of the debate will form part of the synthesis reports prepared by the Council configurations directly involved in Europe 2020 and will be forwarded to the March European Council.

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