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UK Council presidency priorities – Education and skills must drive economic performance

On 12-13 July in London, an informal meeting of Education Ministers from the EU, candidate, accession and EEA countries was held. Education and Skills Secretary Ruth Kelly outlined the priorities of the UK Presidency of the EU Education Council EU and called on her fellow EU education ministers to join her in the challenge to increase investment in skills for the 21st Century. 

UK Secretary Kelly noted that “we must refocus education on making an impact on our economies but, just as importantly, on our societies and the lives of our citizens”.  The related aims of the UK presidency are to highlight how education and skills can lever up economic performance and achievement of the Lisbon goals.

Related priorities to address: 

  • highlighting the contribution that investment in skills can make to raising productivity; 
  • considering new approaches to employer engagement in sector skills development; 
  • focusing on the development of world-class higher education; 
  • delivering effective learning using ICT.

UK Work and Pensions Secretary David Blunkett: Speaking at the recent Skills Summit, Mr. Blunkett said “an employer-led approach giving people the opportunity to improve their skills in the workplace was necessary, not only to improve their own lives, but to ensure we face the twin challenges of demography and globalisation. Economies that have a flexible workforce and the capacity to adapt will be those which succeed. Our task is to ensure that the working population has the skills and productivity needed to stay competitive”.

Other concrete items of interest to be expected in education and youth during the UK Presidency are:

  • Negotiating new EU education and youth programmes designed to promote cooperation between educational establishments and promote country exchanges between lecturers, teachers and students such as the Erasmus programme;
  • A report on education and training’s contribution to competitiveness and social inclusion under the Lisbon agenda;
  • An emphasis on quality assurance for Higher Education Institutions across Europe;
  • Agreement on an EU Youth Pact which considers the problems of unemployed young people;
  • Progressing negotiations on Culture 2007, a funding programme to promote cultural co-operation between Member States and to promote the mobility of cultural works and practitioners.
  • Negotiating a new programme which would designate 2008 as the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.
  • Taking forward the joint working agreements and enhancing practical co-operation between Members States on key issues of mutual interest, for example digitisation of cultural content

ACA will continue monitoring developments in the UK presidency.

UK Presidency Priorities - Education, Youth and Culture
Statements from UK Work and Pensions Secretary David Blunkett
Press release: Skills for Europe – Building a knowledge society
European Parliament Committee on Culture and Education new draft report