Education and Training Monitor: More investment needed to spread benefits of education across society
The Education and Training Monitor 2015 shows progress in education attainment across Europe but reveals investment is needed to make education more inclusive and boost social mobility.
The 2015 edition of the EU’s Education and Training Monitor shows more Member States have now reached their goals in increasing the number of students completing higher levels of education and minimising those leaving education early. This means Europe is on track to reach the targets set in its growth and jobs strategy by 2020. However, this progress is uneven, with discrepancies between and within Member States. Pupils from disadvantaged and immigrant backgrounds are most at risk of not reaching minimal educational standards.
Evidence gathered for the Monitor shows that 15-year olds with low socio-economic status are five times more likely not to achieve basic skills like literacy and numeracy than their peers from better-off backgrounds. It also highlights the fact that foreign-born students are twice as likely to leave school early as native-born students.
This situation is set against continuous spending cuts in educational budgets, which have fallen by 3.2% across Europe since 2010. The study concludes that a new boost in investment for education is needed to build more inclusive educational systems in Europe and avoid rising ‘educational poverty’, which remains a root cause of unemployment and social exclusion. It recommends Member States to focus such efforts on improving the accessibility, quality and relevance of their education and training systems.
Key findings and policy relevance on VET
The Monitor suggests that initial VET programmes allow for an easier transition to the labour market. However, in some Member States, very few young people have access to high-quality initial VET programmes and returns to VET qualifications differ across countries. At the same time, in a few Member States there is a large proportion of young people who completed general upper secondary education but neither continue into higher education nor attempt to receive labour market relevant qualifications through VET. Developing good links between VET and the labour market is essential to improve the quality and attractiveness of VET programmes. Introducing more work-based learning, and particularly apprenticeships, is one of the most straightforward ways to ensure such links between the needs of employers and the education and training provided by VET systems across Europe.
The Education and Training Monitor 2015 is the fourth edition of this annual report that captures the evolution of Europe’s education and training systems by bringing together a wide array of evidence. It measures Europe’s progress on the objectives of the Europe 2020 headline target for education, as part of the broader EU growth and jobs strategy. The report is also the starting point for assessing EU countries’ performance as a basis for the yearly Country Reports in the framework of the European Semester.
The study also strengthens the evidence-base for education and training policies more broadly and has become a reference tool for policy makers around Europe. It comprises a cross-country comparison, twenty-eight in-depth country reports, and a dedicated webpage with additional data and information.
Mutual learning and a strengthened evidence-base are crucial if Member States are to address challenges like rising inequalities and persisting unemployment around Europe. The data compiled by the Monitor can also help to improve our understanding and response to growing risks of radicalisation, as highlighted by attacks in Paris and Copenhagen earlier this year, as well tackle challenges posed by the ongoing refugee crisis by building more open and cohesive societies.
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