MEPs called on EU Member States and businesses to Invest in education and training as "an essential precondition for emerging from the crisis". To teach the skills that society needs, they advocated measures to ensure that at least 40% of people between 30 and 34 have a university education.
Increasing digital literacy
MEPs consider it essential to increase digital and media literacy and teach new technologies at all levels of education and training. Children should be taught computer skills at an early age and enabled to handle the Internet "with a sense of responsibility and critical discernment", they say.
Education-business links, mobility and language learning
The report calls on the Member States "to modernize the agenda of higher education and, in particular, to coordinate curricula with the demands of the labour market". It also urges EU Member States to encourage partnerships at all levels between higher education institutions and the business world, and to expand work-based learning and apprenticeships.
To enhance student and teacher mobility, financial and recognition-related obstacles should be urgently addressed, stress MEPs. They "consider it important to promote study periods and traineeships for vocational training students in other EU countries, along the same lines as the Erasmus programme for university students". As "mobility will not become a reality for people without a second language", MEPs "call on the Member States to introduce the learning of a second language at an early stage".
"Education and training policies should enable all citizens, irrespective of their age, gender and socio-economic background, to acquire, update and develop their skills and competences throughout their lives", stress MEPs. They back the aim of raising adult participation in life-long learning from 12.5% to 15% by 2020, and call on universities "to facilitate wider access to studying, diversify and broaden the student base and amend study programmes to make them attractive to adults returning to study". The report also calls for "the legal recognition of a universal right to life-long education".
Democratic competences and student involvement
MEPs believe that "all education should foster the acquisition of democratic competences by supporting student councils and allowing students to take co-responsibility for education". They advocate "more regular consultation of, and greater participation by, students in the management of the educational process, active participation by students’ parents in the educational community and the development of a confidence-based relationship between students and teachers". MEPs also call for the recognition and certification of skills acquired in non-formal education, considering it complementary to formal education.
Tackling illiteracy, unemployment and social exclusion
The report suggests introducing well-funded grant systems to encourage young people from poor families to embark on a course of study. It also "calls on the Member States to promote free higher education" to help the less prosperous. "Higher education institutions should become more open to non-traditional learners, students with special needs and disadvantaged groups", MEPs add.
MEPs "call for quick action to tackle the growing number of people with low levels of reading literacy". They are also "extremely concerned about the increasing numbers of unemployed young people" and urge Member States "to ensure that labour markets are as flexible as possible, to ensure that young people can easily find work and move between jobs".
The report calls on Member States to support, by legislative, administrative and financial means, the education of minority children in their mother tongue. It also advocates educational support for children of immigrants to facilitate their adjustment to the educational, social and linguistic environment of the host country. MEPs also stress the importance education in preventing social prejudice and discrimination.
Improving gender balance
MEPs note that women are still under-represented in mathematics, sciences and technology, where only 32% of graduates are female. "A continuous effort is required to ensure that women have equal access to education at all levels and that educational choices are not predetermined by gender stereotypes", they stress. The report also urges stakeholders to ensure that all students and workers with family responsibilities have opportunities to update or improve their skills and competences by "making childcare affordable for as many people as possible", and expanding e-learning.
The report was approved in committee with 26 votes in favour, one against and two abstentions. It is scheduled for a plenary vote on 18 May.
In the chair: Doris PACK (EPP, DE)