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On 16 November, the European Commission released the fourth edition of its annual Education and Training Monitor. The report keeps track of member states’ progress towards the achievement of targets under the Education and Training 2020 (ET2020) strategic framework, with indicators ranging from early childhood and care to tertiary education. Accompanied by 28 in-depth country reports, the monitor offers a cross-national thematic analysis as well as a national-level perspective.
This year's edition shows the EU is on track to achieve the Europe 2020 headline target of 40% tertiary education attainment, but progress is uneven and differences between member states remain. According to the report, the EU now has an average higher educational attainment rate of almost 38% amongst 30 to 34 year-olds, up from 34.8% in 2011 and 23.6% in 2002. Lithuania (53.35%), Luxembourg (52.7%) and Cyprus (52.5%) lead the pack on post-secondary education completion, while Italy (23.9%), Romania (25%) and Malta (26.6%) have the lowest rates. The participation of underrepresented groups in higher education poses a challenge, however, and is related to a lack of social inclusiveness in earlier stages of education, leading to early school leaving (defined as the failure to achieve upper secondary education). The monitor underlines the importance of ensuring access to education in the light of the increasing diversity in European societies and encourages national governments to devise quantitative targets for under-represented groups in higher education and reward institutions reaching these targets with additional funding.
The report also highlights the challenge of skills mismatch. Although employment rates for higher education graduates are stagnating, tertiary education still provides better employment prospects (80.5%) than vocational education and training (70.8%). However, 25% of tertiary graduates are in jobs not requiring a tertiary qualification. This points to a mismatch between the skills provided by tertiary institutions and those required by the labour market.Read the full report: European Commission