Education and training is not up to the job, say quarter of Europeans in survey
A new Eurobarometer survey on the 'European Area of Skills and Qualifications' (Special Eurobarometer 417) shows also that around a quarter (23%) of EU citizens feel that their education or training has not provided them with the skills to find a job in line with their qualifications. While over half of the respondents (56%) think their qualifications would be recognised in other Member States, 6% tried to work or study in another Member State but were unable to do so, either because their qualifications were not recognised by their prospective employer or education institution, or because the respondents lacked information about recognition of their qualifications abroad.
The survey's findings are echoed by the results of a separate Commission online consultation, 'Towards a European Area for Skills and Qualifications', aimed at education and training specialists. It collated views on the obstacles faced by people in having their skills and qualifications recognised across Europe and found that there is strong support for action to simplify European tools for recognition of skills and qualifications, to make them more coherent and easier to use, and to ensure a stronger focus on the needs of pupils, students, workers and employers. Respondents also call for more emphasis in education and training on what is learnt rather than the number of hours of instruction.
"Our objective is simple: 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," said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.
Over the years, various European initiatives have been put in place to promote the recognition of skills and qualifications, such as the European Qualifications Framework, systems for awarding and accumulating credits for coursework, quality assurance and documentation of skills and competences. But significant bottlenecks remain: implementation of the initiatives has been slow; there are still too many obstacles to educational and working mobility; and the current initiatives are not well adapted to developments in digital learning and 'internationalisation' (student mobility between EU and non-EU countries, joint degrees awarded by universities in different countries).
Other findings from the Eurobarometer survey:
The most important aspects of education and training, according to EU citizens, relate in particular to a teacher’s ability to engage and motivate students. This area is seen as needing the most improvement (51%). Other areas for improvement are learning environments to stimulate creativity and curiosity (41%), and practical work experience with a company or organisation (37%).
A large majority of EU citizens (95%) consider that skills can be gained outside of formal education, particularly foreign language skills and skills that can be used in different jobs.
Only 9% say they know the level of the European Qualifications Framework to which their qualifications correspond, and just 21% have heard of the European Qualifications Framework.
Overall, when looking at a variety of tools that can be used to document skills and qualifications, awareness is generally low. The most commonly mentioned tool is the Europass CV (15%).
In total, 44% of EU citizens say that they have looked for information of some kind on education, training or career guidance. Just over half of respondents (56%) say they found it at least quite easy to find the information they needed.
The results and implications of the consultation and the Eurobarometer survey will be presented and discussed at a conference on the European Area of Skills and Qualifications, taking place today in Brussels.
The Eurobarometer survey was carried out in all 28 Member States between 26 April and 11 May; 28 000 people from different social and demographic groups were interviewed face-to-face.
The Commission's online consultation, which ran from 17 December 2013 to 15 April 2014, received feedback from education and training experts in 36 countries (all Member States plus Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Australia).