On 13 and 14 June, the final conference of the joint project of EFEE and ETUCE on “European Sectoral Social Partners in Education (ESSDE) striving for sustainable influence on European education policy building through successful social dialogue; the ESSDE capacity building project III” took place in Sofia, Bulgaria. Goal of the conference was to present the outcomes of the project activities (mainly the roundtable meeting organised in 8 different EU countries) and to further discuss our role as social partners in education in actively implementing the European Pillar of Social Rights and in achieving convergence in the European Education Area 2025 through increased consultation and ownership of policy and reforms, as well as our specific role in enhancing the attractiveness of the teaching profession. The conference gathered about 90 participants representing education employers and teacher trade unions from EU Member States and Candidate Countries, and national and European policy makers. Furthermore, the conference was hosted by EFEE’s and ETUCE’s member from Bulgaria: the Ministry of Education and the teacher trade unions SEB and SEP; co-chaired by EFEE’s President from Ireland Michael Moriarty and concluded by EFEE’s Assistant General Secretary, Sarah Kik. In total 7 EFEE members participated from IE, NL, MT, BU, FI, and ME.

EFEE members who had been involved in the roundtable meetings in their respective countries played an active role in the conference together with their counterparts from trade union side. Michael Moriarty from Education and Training Boards Ireland (and President of EFEE) presented the outcomes of the meeting in Ireland with specific focus on promoting decent workplaces and enhancing occupational health and safety in the teaching profession; Hein van Asseldonk from the Dutch Secondary Education Council (VO-raad) shared the experiences from the Netherlands on promoting equity and equality in inclusive education systems; Peter Paul Carabott from the Ministry for Education and Employment of Malta presented how one is working on making the teaching profession more attractive by addressing challenges of recruitment and retention in the education sector; and Heikki Holopainen from the Assocation of Finnish Independent Education Employers contributed via video connection to the Finnish presentation on the role of social dialogue in education policy and reform.

Besides the presentation from the EFEE and ETUCE members and national and European policy makers, the conference featured also an interactive part in which all participants shared their views in three different workshops on how social partners in education can contribute to making the teaching profession more attractive by improving the working conditions and supporting teachers, trainers and school leaders and making the teaching profession more attractive, particularly through investment in strong initial and continuous professional development. The outcomes of the discussion will feed into an official joint ESSDE statement to be further developed by the secretariats of EFEE and ETUCE and to be presented, discussed (and possibly agreed) at the ESSDE plenary meeting in Brussels on 19 November 2018. Brandon McManus Jersey