23 Oct ESSDE PLENARY MEETING
On 20 October, EFEE and ETUCE members conferred online at the final ESSDE plenary meeting of this year. The meeting was kicked-off with a keynote speech from Ms Adrienn Nyircsak, Policy Officer at Strategy and Investments at DG EAC, on the Communication on the European Education Area (EEA) 2025. Ms Nyircsak gave an outline of the Communication’s six main objectives, the structural framework as well as the next steps to be taken on the pathway towards achieving the EEA by 2025. Most notably, the “Pathways to school success” initiative, which is aimed at preventing under-achievement and early school leaving, the Erasmus Teacher Academies and the follow-up to the ET2020 Working Groups were a topic of discussion amongst the participants. Lastly, it was noted by both the employers’ organisations and the trade unions that the role of social dialogue was regrettably lacking in this document.
Subsequently, participants were given a mid-term evaluation as well as an update on the ESSDE Work Programme 2020-2021 priorities as well as the current and pending ESSDE projects. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, multiple events within the ESSDE projects have been postponed, most notably the “Lifelong Learning for All” project and the “OSH4Edu” project. The former project will hold its next meeting online/in Berlin in December, while the latter will organize an online interactive workshop hosted by Slovenia. The “e-Speed” project is currently in the preparatory phase, which includes an online survey being sent to both EFEE and ETUCE members. Regarding the pending projects, the ESSDE Plenary was introduced to two ESSDE projects and one employers-only project. First, the ESSDE project on “Quality of Teaching and Management in Higher Education” was presented. This EFEE-led project entails two peer learning visits to take place in Portugal in May 2021 and the Netherlands in October 2021 and is aimed at the higher education sector. Secondly, the ETUCE-led project on “Towards a Framework of Action on the Attractiveness of the Teaching Profession through effective Social Dialogue in Education” will organize a one-day kick-off conference fact-finding seminar in Brussels in June 2021, two two-days sub-regional education social dialogue seminars in Bucharest (Romania) and Riga (Latvia) in October 2021 and February 2022 as well as a closing conference in Warsaw (Poland) in June 2022. Lastly, the employers-only project on “Strengthening the capacity of education employers within the European Semester process” was introduced to the Plenary. This project foresees two interactive workshops taking place in Greece (for southern countries) and the Netherlands (for northern countries) respectively and closes with a dissemination conference in Slovenia.
After the lunch break, the social partners in education were introduced to the European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience & Council Recommendation on vocational education and training (VET) for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience by Anna Barbieri, Policy Officer at VET, Apprenticeships & Adult Learning Unit at DG EMPL. The presentation highlighted the European Universities and the Pact for Skills, which will be presented on 10 November 2020 at the European Vocational Skills Week, as the focal points of these documents. Against the backdrop of the aim of both proposals to provide the current and future European labour market, and especially young people, with an adequate and competitive skills set, Ms Barbieri most notably praised the implementation of the SELFIE-tool as an effective way to gain more data on digital skills. It should however be noted that currently only the training provider as well as the VET provider have access to this personal data, while education employers would also benefit from gaining access to the aggregated data set of this tool. During the subsequent debate, members were invited to reflect on the role of social partners within the framework of the European Skills Agenda. Thereby, the following topics turned out to be of paramount importance: democratic education in VET, the attractiveness of the teaching profession, the role of VET providers and businesses as career guides, inclusive education and the further promotion of social dialogue.
The plenary was closed with a follow-up discussion on the implementation of the joint ETUCE-EFEE statement on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the education sector. Members agreed on the importance of the realization that the education system as a whole has been undergoing fundamental changes since the first wave of the outbreak of COVID-19 last spring. In this regard, they considered healthy working conditions of teachers and students as well as the further promotion of digital tools in teaching to be among the key priorities for future action of social partners. Lastly, it was underlined that social partners in education need to be leaders of change and innovation by taking advantage of the opportunities that the Covid-19 crisis has presented us.
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