A group of young people and education experts from Greece and Cyprus came to Cedefop's premises on Europe Day (9 May) to celebrate the European project and discuss its future. Some of them talked to us about the school of tomorrow and the challenge of matching skills acquired in education with labour-market needs.
ANDREAS LOUTZIDIS – High-school student, 17, Thessaloniki, Greece
'The secondary education system offers some basic knowledge but it doesn’t instil other values such as working together, healthy competition and respecting our colleagues - values that are important for the labour market, especially nowadays that finding a job becomes more and more difficult. An improvement would be to organise seminars so that students can focus their efforts in a particular sector, find out what is required of them as well as the labour market trends. Apprenticeships are not really formalised in Greece, but unofficially you could find something. However, I would be interested in going to university, to an engineering school. I want to achieve a high level of studies before looking for a job in Greece or abroad.'
MARIA KANAOUROU – Postgraduate student in Education Leadership (Cyprus European University)
'There is room for improvement in the education system. As it is, it gives guidelines for the future but it fails to deal with the substance. A dialogue should be started so that students’ opinions are taken into account. I’ve chosen this particular postgraduate course because it offers practical training and will give me the necessary skills to do my job. This is a very difficult period when it comes to employment. I’m hoping to get a teaching job eventually. In the meantime, I’ve enrolled in a programme offered by the employment bureau in Cyprus, which gives vocational training in administration. This way I’m acquiring different skills, which I hope will help me find a job.'
YORGOS HARBIS – Psychology graduate (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece)
'I graduated in 2011 but I still haven’t found a job. I believe there is a real mismatch between the number of positions available and the job-seekers with a university degree, especially in sectors such as teaching and law. In higher education, more importance should be placed on practical studies. Speaking from experience, I graduated from a school where theory was paramount and practical training almost non-existent, which makes it very difficult for me to find a job. In hindsight, I might have chosen a different path. The institution of apprenticeships is a very good one and I hope it is developed across Europe. It gives you more skills. It helps you learn your chosen subject on the job. In Greece, there is widespread belief that young people have to go to university. People are not aware of what the alternatives have to offer. I believe that the role of institutional organs, such as Cedefop and other vocational education centres should be enhanced in order to change things for the better.'
MARGARITA HADJISAVVA – Secondary education teacher – Latsia, Cyprus
'There are problems with the education system but I cannot condemn it completely. I am a teacher and I see how much effort is put into education. Students can choose subjects that are relevant to the direction they want to follow when they are 16 or 17 years old and we also organise lectures from teachers and professionals to help them decide what to do. However, there is rarely a follow-up. Students on their part are immature; they don’t know what they want. When they go to the educational consultants, they are not interested in finding out what the needs of the labour market in Cyprus are. They have fixed ideas. In Cyprus, people think that higher education is the only way to a good job. There is some kind of competition in society and parents want their children to go to university. We have students at school with a vocational talent, for example they can be good electricians or gardeners, but in the end they opt for higher education. It’s because their parents put pressure on them.'