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Sometimes offer mismatches demand. From a rather pessimistic perspective, this could be the bottom line of the European Commission’s second Education and Training Monitor report. Based on data from EU member states and the OECD, the report presents a somehow gloomy picture of recent developments in education and training throughout the European Union and recalls the need for education and training systems to better respond to economic developments.
The report reveals a number of weaknesses and unsatisfactory conditions in education and training which for the most part are a result of the difficult economic situation. In this regard, the report finds that the employment rate of recent university and upper secondary education graduates fell from 82 % to 75.7 %. Moreover, 21 % of people with tertiary qualifications are employed in jobs that require lower qualifications than they actually possess. Figures also reflect budgetary pressure on some EU member states which led to a decrease of their overall expenditure per student on tertiary education institutions. In total, 6 out of 11 member states which decreased their spending fall now behind the EU average (Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Czech Republic and Italy).
The average EU youth unemployment rate of 23 % remains, however, the most challenging problem for the EU and its member states. As graduate unemployment among recent university graduates is becoming an increasingly growing problem, the question arises whether the Europe 2020 headline target of increasing the EU average tertiary attainment rate to 40 % is the answer to everything. Cutting the issue of unemployment down to a ‘surplus’ of university graduates or a mismatch between skills and labour market demands would be too simplistic and would fall short of grasping structural problems that lie more often behind high unemployment rates. Yet, a mismatch between offer and demand cannot be dismissed out of hand. This, in turn, creates necessity for “education and training systems [which] provide high-quality and labour market relevant skills” and which “detect or anticipate emerging trends in order to secure in time a stable supply of relevant skills”, as pointed out by the report. However that works…