EFEE’S NEWS FLASH – 31 October 2014

Update on EFEE and EU meetings

Peer Learning Activity on Promoting the Development of Quality VET

On 21 and 22 October, EFEE’s Peer Learning Activity (PLA) on Promoting the Development of Quality VET took place in Ireland. The PLA was kindly hosted by the Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI), of which EFEE’s President, Michael Moriarty, is the General Secretary. The programme started with a keynote speech by Minister of State for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English, on the recent reforms of the Further Education and Training (FET) sector in Ireland (or in European English: the Vocational Education and Training sector). He outlined the new FET Strategy 2014-2019, which aims to create a world-class integrated system of FET in Ireland which will: support economic development; increase social inclusion; and meet the needs of all learners, communities and employers who engage with FET. After the intervention of the Minister of State, Michael Moriarty gave an introduction to the FET system in Ireland, the role of ETBI in this system, and the impact of the reforms on ETBI.  Fiona Hartley, from SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority explained more in depth the aims of the reforms. She focused in particular on the question “How to ensure the provision of 21st Century high quality Further Education and Training Programmes?”.

After this theoretical introduction, Owen O’Donnell from the Kerry Education and Training Board Apprenticeship Training Centre, showed via a video how in his Training Centre students are being prepared for the job market of the 21st century. Furthermore, Pat O’Mahony, Education and Research of ETBI, underlined in his presentation the importance of apprenticeships and a dual education system, in which students combine education at school with on the job training, in order to improve the transition from education to the labour market.

Further to these Irish examples, Marc van der Meer, Scientific Advisor of the Dutch Association of VET Colleges, gave an introduction to work-based learning in the changing model of Dutch VET.

The next day the participants saw how the Irish FET works in practice by visiting the Blackrock Further Education Institute.  The participants were warmly welcomed by Principal of the education institute Deirdre Hanamy and by Deputy Principal Lucy Tierney. They presented the impact of the reforms on their school and presented the different programmes of the school for the wide range of students they serve: pupils who finished secondary education, early school leavers, students who take programmes to continue studying at colleges/universities, long employed people etc; all with the goal to prepare them for the future. Two students of the Education Institute presented why they had chosen for the Blackrock Further Education and how their courses at the school had prepared them for the labour market. One of the students had set up her own make-up company at explained that she had developed a strong skill basis at school, but that it would have been helpful to have had some more information about all the challenges you face when starting up an own company.

With all the theoretical and practical examples of the Irish FET system in mind, the participant reflected on their own national systems and discussed the striking differences and similarities. It was concluded that there are a lot of similarities between the EU Member States in the field of vocational education and training, such as: the concern about teaching to the test, the importance of transversal skills, the need for a close link between education and industry, and the awareness to provide the student for a career path which could mean further studying at a university or for a job at the labour market.

For more information, please contact:


Education, Training and Youth Forum

On 9 and 10 October the European Education, Training and Youth Forum took place in Brussels. The aim of the 2014 Forum was to provide a solid platform for a structured contribution from stakeholders in education, training and youth to the future of the ET 2020 Strategic Framework with the purpose of optimising its overall functioning, sharpening its contribution to the EU’s overall growth and jobs strategy, and identifying concrete priority areas for the next ET 2020 work cycle (2015-2017).

The forum was opened by Androulla Vassiliou, who made use of the opportunity to reflect on her five years as European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth (on 1 November the new Commissioner will take office). Furthermore, Xavier Prats Monné, Director General for Education and Culture, presented the ideas of the European Commission how to come to a new EU agenda for education, training and youth. Herewith the consultation of stakeholders on the remaining challenges and future priorities of ET2020 plays an important part, Prats Monné underlined (EFEE has been consulted on this issue in the framework of the high level dialogue between European social partners and DG Education and Culture).

In order to promote the discussions on these topics among the participants of the Forum, The programme included plenary and panel discussions with high-level key stakeholders, interactive and innovative workshops on specific topics, and networking opportunities. Based on the discussions at the Forum, the Commission will prepare the main conclusions which will contribute to the ET 2020 Joint Report due to be adopted by Council and Commission in 2015.

For more information, please contact:


European Business Forum on Vocational Training

President of EFEE, Michael Moriarty, participated in the European Business Forum on Vocation Training, that took place on 23 and 24 September in Brussels. During the Forum stakeholders discussed how VET schools and companies could work more closely together. A number of best practice examples of business-VET cooperation were presented both in plenary and in workshops, and there were also testimonials from current and previous VET trainees and apprentices.

For more information, please contact ETBI


Joint Position Paper EFEE & ETUCE for Italian Presidency

EFEE prepared together with its Italian member, ARAN, a joint position paper to the Italian Presidency of the Council of the EU to provide our input on the Programme of the Presidency and the priorities for Education and Training from a European Education Employers’ perspective. In the Position Paper, EFEE and ARAN highlight the importance of:

  • modernising education and training systems;
  • adapt to the ever-changing demands of 21st century living;
  • excellent and modern skills and competences of our teachers, our professors, our researchers and our school leaders;
  • opening up education;
  • teacher acquisition of digital skills;
  • connecting classrooms and deploying digital devices and content;
  • mobilising all stakeholders to change the role of digital technologies;
  • professionalisation of teachers and school leaders;
  • and last, but not least: the contribution of social partners to implementing the future priorities.

For the complete Position Paper please see our website.

For more information, please contact:


European Policy Network on School Leadership (EPNoSL) meeting in Nice

On 25 and 26 September, Bianka Stege, General Secretary of EFEE, took part in the Peer Learning Activity on “Positioning School Leadership in the Agenda for School Reforms” of the European Policy Network on School Leadership, of which EFEE is a member. The main aim of the PLA was to enhance knowledge exchange between national policy makers, professionals, researchers, educational leaders, representatives of professional associations, social partners, and other School Leadership stakeholders. During the PLA an update was given on the tools that are developed in the first two years of the network. An overview of the tools can be found at the website of the network:

Furthermore, we would like to inform you that on 25 November a EPNoSL Webinar will take place on “Policy Responses”, which will be moderated by Bianka Stege.

In February 2015, our members José Diogo from the Ministry of Education of Portugal, will moderate a Webinar on “Autonomy & Stakeholders’ collaboration”

You are very welcome to take part in these Webinars, for more information click here.

For more information, please contact:


ET2020 TWG Modernisation of Higher Education

On behalf of EFEE, Professor Esa Hamalainen (FI), Director of Administration, University of Helsinki, from the Association of Finnish Independent Education Employers (AFIEE) participates in the ET2020 Thematic Working Group on Modernisation of Higher Education. Herewith his report from the Seminar on “Performance-based steering”, which took place in The Hague (NL) on 25 and 26 September.

Performance-based steering of Higher Education institutions was the topic of this seminar organised by the European Commission in the Netherlands. This country-focused work group discussed the recent developments in 10 member states, namely Austria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Latvia, Slovak Republic and the host-country, the Netherlands. All the participating countries either used performance agreements and funding models or were planning to implement them. Funding models vary from input-based to performance-based or strategic, typically taking into account various aspects of education, research and societal impact. It was evident that a major paradigm change is a reality in the European ministries. Some countries with a longer tradition of these new public management tools – e.g. Austria, Finland and the Netherlands – were moving toward a stronger strategic orientation. Their universities use internally similar steering mechanisms, as we heard from the Universities Graz, Delft and Helsinki. The same is however true for Latvia about to implement an elaborate performance-steering in three steps as recommended by the World Bank. The second day was mostly spent on group discussions on lessons learned and recommedations for newcomers. These highlighted the importance of dialogue between ministries and universities and within the universities. Participants felt that small steps and try-outs are sensible backed up with solid data collection. It is also important from the very beginning to reason why a change is necessary and what are the real expectations. Public accountability is often referred to as the driving force, however, there are always higher education policy goals that either the politicians or the ministry hope to achieve.

This seminar was part of the ET2020 Programme of the Union under the auspice of the working group Modernising Higher Education. With this WG the commission aims at advancing the Unions goals in the member states. These country-focused seminars offer the representatives of the ministries of education a chance to share experience with colleagues. For social partners like EFEE it is a mean to discuss the future developments and even to give feedback to the member state ministries. As each country brings also one representative of their universities, the seminar makes it easier for the institutions to understand the European context. This may help the institutional leaders to stand on equal terms in discussions when the national authorities are redesigning their steering principles.

For more information, please contact:


Peer Learning Visit in the UK “Professional Autonomy, Accountability and Efficient Leadership”

On 17 and 18 September, the third and last Pear Learning Visit of the joint VO-Raad, EFEE and ETUCE project on “Professional autonomy, accountability and efficient leadership” took place in Hillingdon, London. Kindly co-organised by the Local Government Association of the UK.

For this peer learning event about 24 EFEE and ETUCE members from different EU countries gathered to discuss and reflect on the School Leadership practice in the UK. At day one the participants were kindly welcomed at the Bishop Ramsey Church of England Academy and Teaching School by the Head of the School and a School Governor. After a short introduction to the school system in the UK by local expert Ian Keating, the School Head and School Governor shared their experiences with school leadership in their school. Their intervention was followed by a presentation on the role of the Local Government Association as education employer in school leadership and presentations of Trade Union representatives on their views and actions regarding school leadership.

The first day finished with a lovely evening reception in a beautiful old farm, where the participants were officially welcomed to Hillingdon by the Mayor herself.

At day two we visited the Bishopshalt School. After an inspiring presentation of the Headteacher on his experiences as school leader, his vision how to improve education for all students, and his views on accountability, local expert Ian Keating guided the participants through the school leadership systems in the UK. Furthermore, Professor Jaap Scheerens, external expert of the project, made a comparison between the reports of the Dutch taskforce, of the Maltese task force and of the UK task force and he highlighted the notable differences between the three countries. This triggered the participants to reflect on their own national systems and to discuss similarities and differences between the national systems. In short, the Peer Learning Visit was really fruitful; the participants got an interesting insight into the UK system, entered into dialogue with their peers, and last, but not least, we all very much enjoyed the great hospitality of Hillingdon!

For more information, please contact:


ET2020 TWG Digital and Online Learning

On 15 and 16 September the second Thematic Working Group on Digital and Online Learning took place in Brussels. The working group focused mainly on the Policy Challenge “Policy guidance for educational providers on the use of digital content and open knowledge”. With regards to a possible review of the European Copyright framework, the participants assessed which issues currently exist with Copyright in education on national level. Furthermore participants discussed a model, prepared by Yves Punie (DG JRC-IPTS), on effective organisational change in educational institutions towards innovative and open learning environments and guidelines transferring these to national and local contexts.

At day two, the participants discussed the mapping exercise and categorisation of instruments by DG EAC on existing policies in the field of Open Educational Resources. The aim of this session was to come to a revised categorisation of instruments.

For more information, please contact:


ET2020 TWG Transversal Skills

On 10 and 11 September the Thematic Working Group on Transversal Skills took place in Brussels. During the meeting the challenges experienced in different countries and regions of the EU in transversal skills policy and practice were explored. Furthermore, the working group continued its work on the Competence Reference Framework. Moreover, a new initiative on entrepreneurship skills, which is developed at EU level between the EC and the OECD, was presented Entrepreneurship360.

For more information, please contact:


Interview EFEE President in Slovenian Newspaper

During a workshop on strengthening social dialogue in Slovenia on 4 June, organised by ETUCE, our President, Michael Moriarty took the opportunity to inform Delo, a Slovenian Newspaper, on EFEE’s points of view. Het talked about the importance of good school leadership, the benefits of European social dialogue in the education sector and the key role education plays in today’s society.

Herewith the link to the article (please note that it is only available in Slovenian):


Update on EU Developments

Outcomes Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs 16 October

Mid-term review of the EU 2020 strategy

The Council held a policy debate on the mid-term review of the EU 2020 strategy, including the European Semester. The President of the Council, Giuliano Poletti, said: “We had a fruitful discussion, analysing both the limits and effectiveness of the existing tools, with a view to identifying those measures deemed necessary to give new impetus to the revised Strategy and address the multiple challenges we will be facing in the coming years”.

Ministers interventions can be summarised as follows:

  • EU 2020 strategy is the right framework, the long-term strategy needed for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. EU 2020 employment and poverty targets are also right but, unfortunately, the crisis and a long recession prevented or slowed down reaching them.
  • There is no need for new goals or targets but a better coordination and balance between economic and fiscal policies and social policies so as to achieve sufficient growth, jobs and social cohesion.
  • All stakeholders, including social partners, national, regional and local Parliaments have to be consulted and to participate in planning social and employment policy measures.
  • The crisis increased social exclusion and poverty. In order to overcome them in the five years ahead, member states should take supply-side measures and invest in human capital by providing young people with training, qualifications and skills possibilities, as well as by giving easier access of older workers to the labour market and by promoting gender equality. Job creation will also depend on demand-side measures.
  • All initiatives, such as the youth employment initiative, must be fully implemented in the framework of the European Semester, a process which must still be further improved.

Platform against undeclared work

The Council reached a general approach on a decision establishing a new Platform to improve prevention and deterrence of undeclared work. Minister Poletti said: “Undeclared work unfortunately represents a widespread phenomenon which has a negative impact on workers, businesses and governments. I am glad that, during the Italian Presidency, the Council reached an agreement on the proposal for establishing a European Platform to tackle undeclared work”.  Ministers also discussed “parental and maternity leave: a way to reconcile work, family and private life”.

For the complete press release, please click here.


New European Commission in office

On 10 September, President-elect Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled his team and the new shape of the next European Commission. The new European Commission will be streamlined to focus on tackling the big political challenges Europe is facing: getting people back to work in decent jobs, triggering more investment, making sure banks lend to the real economy again, creating a connected digital market, a credible foreign policy and ensuring Europe stands on its own feet when it comes to energy security.

Mr Tibor Navracsics (Hungary) is the new Commissioner for Education, Culture and Youth. A striking change for DG Education and Culture (EAC) is that the parts of Unit EAC A3 (Skills and Qualification Strategies; Multilingualism Policy) dealing with Skills and Qualification, and of Unit EAC B2 (Vocational Training and Adult Education; Erasmus +) dealing with Vocational Training and Adult Education policy move from DG EAC to DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (EMPL).

The new Commissioner for this DG is Ms Marianne Thyssen from Belgium. The new Commission will take office at 1 November.


Update on Publications

Erasmus+ Programme Guide 2015

The Erasmus+ Programme Guide is a document providing detailed information on the 2015 Erasmus+ Call for Proposals. It is designed to provide organisations applying to the programme with information on:

  • The priorities of the programme,
  • The actions supported,
  • The funding available for different actions,
  • Detailed information on participation.


Eurydice Report on Teachers’ and School Heads’ salaries and allowances in Europe 2013-2014

In 2013/2014, teachers saw their salaries increase in 16 European countries (BE, DK, DE, EE, FR, HR, LU, HU, MT, AT, SK, FI, UK, NO, MK, TR) compared with the previous school year, according to a Eurydice report carried out for the European Commission. The rises were chiefly due to salary reforms and adjustments to the cost of living.

The report is at the website of the European Commission:


Education at a Glance 2014

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published its annual report on the state of play and challenges faced by national education systems. The main findings about the EU in the report are:

  • Educational opportunities continue to expand significantly in Europe.
  • High levels of education and skills pay off for both individuals and society.
  • Similar levels of educational attainment do not always mean similar levels of skills.
  • The right skills matter during the transition from education to work.
  • The teacher population is ageing.
  • Private investment in tertiary education is growing.

For the complete report, see the website of the OECD:


New Blog from European Action Group for Entrepreneurship Education

In this blog, Tom Cooney, Professor of Entrepreneurship from the Dublin Institute of Technology, challenges the notion that education does not contribute to building an entrepreneurship class and particularly takes issue with the press for spreading misconceptions about the role of education in entrepreneurship development. He points to empirical research which demonstrates how young people who take entrepreneurship courses are more likely to start their own businesses. Cooney’s blog goes further underlining how entrepreneurship education has evolved from early days when it focused primarily on the business plan. Today sees entrepreneurship education focusing more on developing more entrepreneurial attitudes and behaviour, details Cooney, which are not only about start-up but also about bringing value to the workplace and wider society. Cooney argues that entrepreneurship education in third-level education should not be locked inside business schools but be brought across campus for all students. And he goes further putting the case for entrepreneurship education to start in early in the education to build the entrepreneurial traits and behaviour that today’s economy needs.

Read more: Educators improve entrepreneurial behaviour


Upcoming Meetings

  • EFEE Executive Committee meeting – 5 November 2014 (Brussels)
  • EFEE General Assembly meeting – 5 November 2014 (Brussels)
  • ESSDE Plenary meeting – 6 November 2014 (Brussels)
  • Conference “Professional autonomy, accountability and efficient leadership” – 13 November 2014 (Amsterdam)
  • Conference “Supporting early career researchers in higher education in Europe” – 21 November 2014 (London)
  • Webinar European Policy Network on School Leadership – 25 November (online)

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