Eurocadres’ opinion on European area of skills and qualifications
A competitive Europe is built on a social Europe, where a well-educated workforce with a strong sense of security can take and make their own opportunities, use their skills, innovativeness and entrepreneurship. Where green jobs drive change to reach essential climate goals – making us leader in technology that needs to be in place for us to sustain life on this planet. Where just transition goes hand in hand with structural change.
Strong and sound state finances are key. But the path to this must be built on growth in employment and economy. Austerity has proven itself wrong. Europe needs investments. Eurocadres supports the ETUC initiative on a New Path for Europe.
EUROCADRES welcomes the European Commissions’ initiative to simplify EU-level qualification, recognition and transparency rules for education and training. Europe-wide transparency and recognition of qualifications and skills awarded both in the education and workplace systems have always been in the core of EUROCADRES’ activities.
Rethinking Education is essential to improve lifelong learning and contributes to the achievement of higher levels of employment, especially in these difficult economic and financial times. EUROCADRES has a long tradition of activities in this field: We took part in the consultation process on the “Green Paper on Modernising the Professional Qualifications Directive”; We developed a clear position to amend the Transparency Directive to take more advantage from the European Qualification Framework; We published together with CEPLIS a joint position on the mentioned Qualification Directive; and we elaborated in November 2012 benchmarks for best work contracts in order to boost excellence in the European Research Area.
Based on the mentioned positions and well backed by the strategic decisions of the 2013 Congress EUROCADRES is well prepared to step into the debate. We will in particular concentrate on the following items:
1. How to place a stronger focus on higher and more relevant skills?
EUROCADRES strongly agrees on upgrading transversal skills in the curricula and assessment practices, in particular language skills and competences based on multicultural backgrounds are an added value on the European labour market. The effectiveness of the European Key Competences Framework is sometimes too basic to incorporate the higher levels of education.
2. Further strengthening links between education, training, mobility and the labour market.
Education and labour market are two different worlds. The labour market is at first determined by economic rules, and education on the contrary is also a matter of individual development. The logic of economics should not be too predominant in civil society.
EUROCADRES is fully aware of the challenges to reduce obstacles for individual careers cross sectors, educational paths and country borders. The European labour market needs full recognition of qualification and experience as well as not too strict links to sectors, professions, member state legislation and practice. For these reasons EUROCADRES appreciates as the best instrument the matrix of the EuropeanQualification Framework with its eight levels and the three well balanced columns of qualifications, skills and competences.
Moving towards an obligatory work certificate indicating the concrete tasks at the various levels of EQF could encourage recognition of the experience awarded in the job; An obligatory reference of any work contract to the levels of the EQF could even avoid discrimination in case of cross sector or cross border mobility.
EUROCADRES already proposed to amend the Transparency Directive in that sense. 6 This would upgrade the EQF to a more binding instrument. But let’s not forget that there are too many tools and frameworks, it is high time to call for effectiveness, coordination and simplification. We urge the Commission to make the necessary changes on the principles and approach towards the tools, taken into account our support for mechanisms that facilitate free movement. We especially propose coordination with the EURES work on a European Classification of skills, competences, qualifications and occupations.
3. Adapting to internationalisation trends
Of course, qualification awards and diploma with links either to international regulations or to mutual institutional credits should be integrated in European frameworks and procedures, not in national ones that could even make problems bigger.
4. Ensuring overall coherence of tools and policies and further implementing the learning outcomes approach.
EUROCADRES also strongly pledges for better links in recognition of higher education, vocational training and learning in the job. Therefore learning outcomes must be carefully evaluated and adapted avoiding a too strict focus on the description of learning and qualifications aspects, but fully including all aspects of skills and competences described in the EQF.
5. Ensuring clarity of rules and procedures for the recognition of skills and qualification for further learning.
EUROCADRES strongly agrees with the ideas of making European criteria and procedures simpler, transparent and harmonised, thus upgrading the importance and labour market relevance of further qualification in the job. The tools of the European Area of Skills and Qualifications should be used to facilitate quality education and teaching, and the employment of people, in order to achieve a better understanding among students, teachers, trainers and social partners. It is therefore essential that social partners can participate at European level events on the tools, which would also improve the dissemination process.
6. Providing learners and workers with a single access point to obtain information and services supporting a European Area of Skills and Qualifications.
Not only for practical reasons but also for the reputation of the European Union and its will to overcome national and transnational bureaucracy, it is in EUROCADRES’ opinion highly desirable to create service-points integrating the various recognition and information services. The EQF and Europass portal should play a key role in this system, providing the tools for a promising career and the necessary free mobility on the labour market.