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European Education Area

Quality education and training for all

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Education for jobs and growth

The importance of education for employment and the EU economy

By ensuring the provision of effective education, we can better align the skills of the workforce with the needs of the EU economy.

The EU needs a skilled workforce to achieve maximal productivity and continued innovation in today's increasingly globalised economy. Effective education and training policies can also enhance personal development, encourage active citizenship and strengthen equity, as well as promoting social inclusion and integration

Recent evidence, however, suggests a growing mismatch between the skills people acquire from education and training, and those required by the labour market. Notably, 20 percent of the working age population across the EU possesses low literacy and numeracy skills.

This limits an individual's potential for personal development and their chances of securing employment, as well as being a contributing factor to weaker economic growth.

The EU’s role in improving education and training 

While the responsibility for education and training systems lies with the Member States, the EU plays a key role in supporting and supplementing efforts to improve and modernise national education systems.

The Europe 2020 Strategy sets targets at the EU-level to decrease the number of early school leavers to below 10 percent and to increase the share of graduates from higher education to at least 40 percent by 2020.

The objectives, instruments and arrangements for joint work at EU-level are outlined in the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020). This framework is valid until 2020.

Progress is monitored with the help of indicators and against a set of benchmarks. Under the Europe 2020 Strategy and the European Semester:

  • The EU carries out country analysis to support Member States in the development of their education and training policies, and to monitor progress regarding reform. These analyses respond to challenges that are identified at EU, national and regional level, and aim to support peer learning and the exchange of best practices; including by identifying areas in need of investment.
  • EU Member States may be given specific guidance on priority reforms each year, in the form of so-called country-specific recommendations.
  • The EU also promotes numerous consultation and cooperation activities involving stakeholders, such as education and training institutions, civil society, businesses, social partners and employment associations.

The Education, Training, and Youth Forum is the platform for the exchange of views between the various stakeholders in the field of education, training and youth.