On 17 June the new Eurobarometer survey “European Area of Skills and Qualifications” was presented to the public at the European Commission conference “Towards a European area of skills and qualifications”. It reveals that a large majority of EU citizens (95%) consider that skills can be gained outside of formal education, particularly language skills and transferable expertise that can be used in different jobs.
In the official press-release Ms Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, commented on the results of the study and outlined the objectives in the area of skills and qualifications, said that "everyone in Europe should be able to have their skills and qualifications understood and recognised, within and across national borders, by employers and educational institutions. They need to be recognised in a fair, comparable and transparent way, so that people's skills and qualifications improve their employability or open the way for further learning".
Transparency and the recognition of skills and qualifications are key elements for providing people with new learning and employment opportunities and have an impact on labour mobility. Today, people are much more exposed to new forms of learning that should be adequately accommodated in the EU policies and there is a need for a stronger convergence between the EU transparency and recognition tools based on on-going evaluations and by pursuing the learning-outcomes approach.
Nevertheless it is important to look at the education and lifelong learning of today that has been heavily impacted by the crisis and is congested by structural problems. Too much emphasis is put on skills for employability, and too little focus is put on democratic, cultural and civic competences. In his speech at the conference, Conny Reuter, SOLIDAR’s Secretary General concluded that “there is a social urgency for investing more in education and training, not only in the transparency tools. There is a strong correlation between the ineffective education systems and young people (NEETs) voting extreme, as there is not enough of EU in education”.
Lastly, reinforcing lifelong learning opportunities for all should be perceived as a tool for social and active inclusion for those who are socio-economically vulnerable and need more than just access to the labour market. At the same time the EU should promote the recognition of the validation of transversal competences, not only with a focus on certifying occupational skills.