Greater support for education and training needed in recovery plans, progressive education ministers say

12/05/2021

PES education ministerial meeting by videoconference

PES education ministerial meeting by videoconference

After over a year of disruption for learners, the recovery must restore educational opportunities for all and support trainees and apprentices in Europe’s fragile economy, education ministers from the PES said today.

Ministers met in the wake of the Porto Social Summit where, as part of the Porto Declaration on social rights, prime ministers and heads of state agreed to put education and skills at the centre of their political action.

Investment in education, vocational training, lifelong learning and upskilling and reskilling will be vital for Europe’s success in the green and digital transitions.

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

“It is increasingly clear that education and training must be a focus for the recovery. Support for learning is a central theme in the Porto Declaration. Its role in the recovery is clear: our ability to successfully navigate the green and digital transitions depends on the skills and talents of our workforce.

“Now is the time to support higher education and training, which has been severely disrupted over the last year. Many students have been unable to cope with the educational and emotional challenges of remote learning. Many who rely on part-time jobs to support themselves are dealing with financial struggles. And for trainees and apprentices, many employers are simply not recruiting. Our recovery depends on urgently restoring educational opportunities for these learners.”

The Swedish minister for Higher Education and Research, Matilda Ernkrans, also attended the meeting and said:

“We must work for equal access to high quality education, and good studying conditions for all. I also think that this should also be an opportunity for us to take a stand for academic freedom. I believe the Higher Education Transformation Agenda should fully reflect the importance we attach to academic freedom.”

European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit attended the meeting to exchange with the ministers on the Porto Summit and discuss the next steps for the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Pillar.

Commissioner Schmit also briefed the meeting on proposals to develop a true European Education Area. Ministers supported a transformation agenda for EU higher education based on clear progressive values: equal access to education, equal consideration for universities and vocational education and training institutions, and good studying conditions for all.

The meeting was attended by:

  • Anna Ekström, Chair, Minister for Education, Sweden
  • Justyne Caruana, Minister for Education, Malta
  • Matilda Ernkrans, Minister for Higher Education and Research, Sweden
  • João Costa, Deputy Minister for Education, Portugal
  • João Sobrinho Teixeira, Secretary of State for Science, Technology and Higher Education, Portugal
  • Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, European Commission
  • Victor Negrescu MEP, Vice-President of the Committee on Culture and Education, S&D Group in the European Parliament
  • Petra Kammerevert, MEP, S&D coordinator for the Committee on Culture and Education, S&D Group in the European Parliament
  • Yonnec Polet, Deputy Secretary General, PES