Stronger knowledge-based Europe
Education is the generator of economic growth and civilisation. Having more knowledge leads to innovations, job creation and higher stability. Those with higher education tend to have shorter unemployment periods than those without. Therefore, investing in education benefits the society as a whole. Eurocadres believes that a strong European economy will be reached by supporting higher education and research.
Quality and accessible higher education
Europe has to claim its position at the top in quality higher education by modernising curricula and investing in research and teaching. European higher education institutions need a wake-up call to improve the quality of education and research. Our institutions are in need of new talents and therefore, Europe has to be the number one destination for international students, as well as improving the accessibility and equity of tertiary education for European citizens. In this respect, we strongly oppose cost-sharing mechanisms that introduce or increase tuition fees and add to the economic burden on individuals.
Our graduates and employers need to be responsive for the fast-changing labour market. Therefore, we support closer cooperation between the higher education institutions and the labour market. The economic downturn that Europe has suffered through the last years has left many graduates and highly educated professionals unemployed. This can have scarring long term effects for these individuals and cause significant societal costs due to devaluation of human capital and reduced productivity. It may also add to demographic and political consequences, if young professionals who are being excluded from the labour market feel increasingly marginalised and discontent, or even leave Europe in search of better opportunities.
Also, internships are the best way for graduates to obtain work experience. However, we condemn underpaid internships where employers are taking advantage of the situation; everyone is entitled to a decent pay.
Eurocadres is in favour of EU actions that facilitate Professional and Managerial Staff's (P&MS's) access to knowledge and skills development. Working as a professional requires a constant upgrade of skills. We need to keep up with modern technologies, digitalisation and new working methods. Access to professional development ensures that we will have longer and better working lives, it improves the functioning of the labour market and increases the overall productivity of the economy which are necessary for Europe’s global competitiveness.
Higher education largely focuses on the young, but there is an increasing need to adapt or complement curricula and financial support for professional employees in need of professional development or reskilling; this should be taken into account in both EU and national policies. Employers also have a responsibility for their employees: workplaces should support their employees’ skills in the long run. In addition, governments should have instruments to support the labour market during large and fast structural reforms.
Funding for research and innovation
In the context of the mid-term review of the Multiannual Financial Framework in 2016, the share of education and research resources must be raised considerably to support job creation, innovation and high-level life-long learning. High quality of and equal access to education are of capital importance. The share of educational and research programmes should be at least one fifth of the EU budget (for the moment around one tenth). Education and economy foster each other in strength and in times of austerity measures, education is always a good investment.
Horizon 2020 is one of the big flagship initiatives by the EU, with an aim to foster jobs and sustainable growth, as well as academic excellence and innovation. The money dedicated to research, science and innovation is vital for research institutions in Europe. We strongly support the European Research Area (ERA), which can strengthen our capacities across member states. The Commission is taking 2.7 billion from this fund for the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and therefore, we want the Commission to ensure that this will not endanger the priorities of Horizon 2020. Moreover, if the EU wants to promote research and excellence, it should support the people behind it: unfortunately, PhD-students often have temporary contracts and are underpaid.
Europe is suffering from a substantial skills mismatch: between 25 to 45 percent are either under or over-qualified. Higher education institutions have to work closer with the Social Partners to minimise the risk of skills mismatch. Also, labour mobility within the EU is low: only 3.3 % of EU citizens work in another EU country. We need more incentives for people to make use of their freedom to move across borders and thereby minimising the labour gap and skills mismatch. At the moment the jobs do not reach the right people and vice versa. However, mobility must always be voluntary.
The further evaluation of regulated professions is useful: the great variation between the EU Member States with regard to regulations of professions may be an obstacle for free movement. But certain sensitive professions must be regulated, and more European co-operation in this field is needed. A European Professional Card may be appropriate for certain professions and a useful tool to facilitate movement of professionals. However, the Card itself should not create a division on the labour market between the holders of the Card and the non-holders.
European transparency tools, such as credit systems and qualification levels, have to be more coherent. Also, member states have to be made more engaged in implementing the European Qualifications Framework (EQF). Recognition of degrees and qualifications is at the core of a functioning cross border labour market.
Intellectual property rights
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are a prerequisite for innovation and growth. Highly-skilled professionals actively contribute to research, development and innovation during their work life. A working social dialogue is the best tool available to enhance legal protection for all the parties involved: companies, employees and public authorities.
In recent years, there have been efforts in the field of creative work to push authors’ rights to employers. For instance, journalists, academics and teachers face increasing demands to sign contracts that could violate their rights. In some cases, especially for freelancers, unfair contracts can lead to losing out on a decent income through creative work. Digitalisation can be seen as a driving force behind this trend, which should instead be replaced by more legal protection. The role of researchers and inventors is worth mentioning as well: they need to be better informed about their rights in case they are considering to create start-ups to avoid any potential IPR violations.
IPR should offer authors and producers incentives in the form of recognition of their created work as well as economic compensation. To guarantee compensation, it is essential to clarify the ownership of intellectual property. With regard to copyrights under an employment contract, agreements on the transfer of copyright should always be held separate.
Eurocadres believes that a working Digital Single Market will boost growth and create more opportunities for employees and companies alike – especially for SMEs, micro-companies, freelancers and independent professionals.