PES ministers: EU Council must back VET recommendation so Europe can lead digital and green transitions

30/11/2020

PES education ministers

PES education ministers meeting by videoconference

Ministers from the PES will support a Council recommendation for a modernised, more agile, vocational education and training (VET) policy, a meeting of PES education ministers heard today.

The EU plans – part of the Youth Employment Support package put forward by European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit in July – will better prepare Europe’s young people to lead the digital and green transitions, minsters agreed as they met to coordinate ahead of today’s EU Council videoconference.

Meeting Chair and Swedish Minister for Education, Anna Ekström, said:

"It is impossible to achieve a digital and sustainable future for Europe if young people do not have the right skills. That is why we are call on ministers to back the Council Recommendation on vocational education and training.

"Progressives are focused on building an education system which promotes upskilling and reskilling. This is how Europe’s young people will reach their full potential and how we will ensure the EU leads the digital and green transitions.

"We praise Commissioner Schmit for this valuable work to get young people into employment, education and training. The Recommendations, and the wider Youth Employment Support package, are a big step forward as we modernise vocational education and training."

Commissioner Schmit attended the PES ministerial to outline the proposals, which aim to boost the number of VET graduates in employment, increase work-based learning, and support learning mobility.

The PES ministers also discussed the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on education, particularly the long-term consequences of disruptions to the academic year. The right to quality and inclusive education is the first principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights and a key component of the progressive political family’s vision for a European social model. The pandemic has compounded inequalities in education, both for students - who may not have the equipment or environment to study effectively – and teachers – who may lack the resources or technical knowledge to teach through digital platforms. The meeting agreed that keeping schools open for as many students as possible was a priority, provided pupils, teachers, support staff and families can be kept safe.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Anna Ekström, Chair, Minister for Education, Sweden
  • Justyne Caruana, Minister for Education, Malta
  • Tiago Brandão Rodrigues, Minister of Education, Portugal
  • Isabel Celaá, Minister of Education and Vocational Training, Spain
  • Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, European Commission
  • Victor Negrescu, MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education, S&D Group in the European Parliament
  • Yonnec Polet, Deputy Secretary General, PES