Croatia assumed the six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time on 1 January and its programme for ‘A strong Europe in a world of challenges’ includes priorities related to education, lifelong learning, skills and the labour market.
The programme’s first priority is ‘a Europe that develops’: ‘In the era of the digital revolution, the European Union, its economy and labour market face new global challenges and demographic changes. In such circumstances, further deepening of the single market, encouraging the digitalisation agenda, investments in research and innovation, greater accessibility of high-quality and lifelong learning and developing new skills adjusted to jobs of the future are guarantees of the Union’s competitiveness.’
In the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council chapter, the programme states that the lack of skills required for the labour market of the future calls for high-quality solutions. Emphasis will also be placed on the implementation of policies focused on strengthening access to the labour market and equal opportunities.
As for the development of skills, employability and competitiveness, Croatia will organise a conference (12 and 13 May in Dubrovnik) 'to encourage discussion on increasing access to lifelong learning and on developing and improving skills to increase the productivity of those who are employed and employability of those who are unemployed.’
There are ‘significant groups of people’ in the EU who are far from the labour market: ‘These are workers who lag behind in accepting new technologies, long-term unemployed persons, socially excluded persons, women who are not present in the labour market due to family obligations, and young people who are not in education or training programmes, or do not have any work experience. Taking into account the digitalisation and automation of production processes and new forms of work, it is important to find a common response in order to increase the employability of these groups.’
The Presidency will encourage discussion on the preservation and creation of high-quality jobs. In addition to exchanging good practices, innovative forms of work will be explored through dialogue with social partners and other stakeholders in the labour market.
New framework for cooperation
In the Education, Youth Culture and Sport Council chapter, it is stated that the Presidency will pay attention to developing the knowledge, skills and competence needed for the future, and to promoting a more balanced mobility and ‘brain circulation’. It will also discuss the proposal for a new strategic framework for cooperation in education and training by 2030.
With regard to teachers and trainers, it is stressed that they face ‘the challenges of modern society, conceptual changes in the approach to learning and teaching, digital transformation of schools, innovative and contemporary pedagogy and analytics of learning and teaching, and a culture of school governance and management.’ Therefore, the Presidency will propose Council conclusions on European ‘teachers and trainers for the future’ and organise a conference dedicated to teachers as promoters of new skills for future jobs.