Nieuws-items bij A. (Androulla) Vassiliou
18-06Toespraak eurocommissaris Vassiliou over adviezen voor verbeteren kwaliteit in hoger onderwijs (en)
16-06Speech - European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards
12-06Eurocommissaris Vassiliou voor lang bezoek naar Griekenland (en)
10-06EU en IOC blijven samenwerken bij het promoten belang van sport (en)
06-06Speech: Opening speech
06-06Speech: EIT: bringing business to education and education to business
31-05Speech: Celebrating 25 years of EU support for Youth
24-05Speech: Improving the well-being of citizens by improving literacy
17-05Speech: Cultural diversity and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
16-05Muziek: ziel van het universum en hartslag van verscheidenheid (en)
26-04Speech: The challenge Europe must not shirk: delivering quality education for all and skills the labour market needs
25-04Speech: First European MOOCs – a milestone for education
23-04Vassiliou blij met eerste Europese online universitaire cursussen (en)
22-04SPEECH - Investing in Erasmus for All, education & skills to fight youth unemployment
15-04Speech: EU funding for research and education – inspiring science today and in the future
12-04Eurocommissaris Vassiliou bezoekt Europese Organisatie voor Nucleair Onderzoek (CERN) (en)
11-04Speech: Opening up higher education to the world and the new university ranking, U-Multirank
11-04Speech: Languages for solidarity
26-03SPEECH - Developing a stronger entrepreneurial mind-set in Europe
11-03Eurocommissaris Vassiliou aanwezig bij EU-jeugdconferentie (en)
I would like to thank the Danish Presidency for launching this debate. The issue is highly relevant, timely and raises important challenges for us as educational policy makers.
It is timely because millions of young people need immediate support. The informal European Council of 30 January confirmed the urgent need to act with concrete measures to turn the tide.
The youth unemployment rate amounts now to over 20% EU-wide - with peaks in some countries of over 40%.
This is a huge waste of human talent. It brings hardship to millions of young people and undermines their confidence.
Therefore we have to take measures, both at EU and at national level, that offer direct and immediate support.
As my contribution to today's policy debate, I would like to make two points:
The first point concerns the need to address in parallel short- and mid-term challenges.
The young people that are unemployed today need immediate support. There is no doubt about the urgency of the matter.
However, it would be short-sighted - and erroneous - to believe that we could eradicate youth unemployment if we limit our tool-box and our interventions to employment policy and the labour market. Education and training policy has a key role to play.
One way of supporting young people in the short and mid-term term is to offer more apprenticeships and traineeships - and the EU can help to increase the number of such placements.
As announced in the Youth Opportunities Initiative, the Lifelong Learning Programme, in the framework of Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci, will support in 2012 130,000 placements of higher education and vocational training students in companies. We could envisage boosting this figure next year to 150,000 - and actually to even more, if we can mobilise money from other sources for this type of activity.
As a follow-up to the debate at the informal European Council, we intend to mobilise allocations under the structural funds that have not yet been committed.
These funds could be used to finance also mobility activities such as the transnational placements in companies I just referred to.
The funds could also be used for actions supporting the fight against early school leaving in line with the Recommendation this Council adopted last May.
And they could be used for substantially increasing the number of apprenticeships and traineeships to ensure that they represent real opportunities for young people. It is clear that for this to be a success, it has to be done in close collaboration with the social partners.
At the recent Informal European Council it was decided to address in particular those Member States with the highest rates of youth unemployment, of 30% or more.
As proposed by President Barroso, we are currently setting up joint action teams, including representatives of the EU and national levels, to channel available resources into programmes and projects for young people. My services will be part of these teams.
I hope that representatives of your Ministries will be part of these country-teams. I cannot stress strongly enough how important this opportunity is for all of us. The action - teams will discuss comprehensive policies for tackling youth unemployment. Skills policies, training and measures addressing early school leaving will be part of these discussions, as well as financing instruments and sources. Thus, it is of key importance that Ministries of Education and Training are the key actors on setting policy and budgetary measures on these issues, in line with your competences and expertise.
In addition to these immediate measures, and this is my second point, we must not turn a blind eye to the weaknesses of our education and training systems.
As I stressed in my previous point the Joint Report gives us an additional opportunity. It provides us with the key empirical evidence to support our input into the European Semester
The evidence demonstrates that we have not yet put our house in order. On current trends, we will not meet our target to bring down early school leaving below 10% by 2020. When 14% of our pupils drop out of school prematurely, there is something very wrong.
A rate of around 20% of low achievers shows us that our systems fail to equip all young people with the skills they need to succeed on the labour market.
Some might say that stepping-up support for the most difficult cases is costly and cannot be financed in times of tight public finance.
On the contrary, I say, it is cheaper and better to intervene at an early stage and address the root-cause of the problem, than allowing poor skills and employability to perpetuate continuing high levels youth unemployment.
Therefore, we have to complement immediate support for young people with a critical review of the performance of our education and training systems.
We need quick intervention - offering immediate support to those who are suffering from the crisis now - coupled with early intervention - a more preventive approach.
I am therefore pleased that the Informal European Council also agreed that each Member State should set out concrete measures to develop and implement comprehensive initiatives on employment and education.
At the meeting, Mr Barroso proposed to the Heads of State and Governments a "Youth on the Move" Pact. It means that Member States have to draw up National Job Plans to combat youth unemployment.
A central part of the Pact is a "Youth Guarantee" which will ensure that all young people are either in a job, in training or in education within a few months of leaving school.
These plans will be part of the National Reform Programmes and will be the subject of enhanced monitoring in the framework of the European Semester. And they should of course be an important issue for our further discussion and collaboration on the education and training side.
I am convinced that the two points I have mentioned:
-the need to address in parallel short- and mid-term challenges by supporting young people in the short and mid-term term by offering more transnational placements, and more apprenticeships and traineeships, and
-how to complement immediate support for young people with a critical review of the performance of our education and training systems
-will form the basis for a constructive discussion. I am looking forward to listening to your views on how education and training can be active in the fight against youth unemployment.
This debate has confirmed that the Danish Presidency found the right subject for discussion at the right time.
There is a clear consensus that we have to fight the worst-case scenario of a "lost generation".
I have heard today a lot of intriguing reflections and many interesting policy initiatives. The debate has also shown that in times of tight public finance we have to make an extra effort to conduct policies that are as cost-efficient as possible.
This means that there is a need to shift attention to early intervention and prevention as well as to put a stronger focus on key target groups, such as low achievers.
It also shows that we have to scrutinise the quality of educational outcomes and the responsiveness of our systems to developments on the labour markets.
For me, the debate confirmed the importance of ensuring that education and training systems do equip people with the right skills. Surely, this issue requires further reflection and I intend, later this year, to present to you an initiative on skills.
Closer cooperation with business -in the form of Sector Skills Alliances in the field of vocational education or training and or of knowledge alliances in higher education - is needed to ensure that education and training are in touch with economic realities and tuned effectively to the demands of the labour market.
All these factors need to be better taken on board in our education and training systems. We should embrace this challenge and send - at the beginning of this second European Semester - a clear signal to the European Council that Education Ministers will ensure that education and training systems are employment and growth-friendly. And we should take an active and prominent part in the discussions under the Semester on the issues mapped out in the recent European Council.
In line with what we just agreed under the previous item on the agenda, we should mobilise ET 2020 and put our expertise at the service of the fight against youth unemployment and also to support with clear analytical evidence our input to the European Semester.
And, at the national level, our endeavours to improve the performance of education and training systems should be prominently reflected in the National Reform Programmes. Ministries of Education and Training must be part of the process of identifying the key policy and budgetary measures to be addressed in these key documents.
I trust that the Danish Presidency will convey this message to the European Council.