On 19 November 2018, European Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee in Education (ESSDE) delegates gathered in Brussels to conduct their annual Plenary meeting, with the support of the European Commission. EFEE President, Michael Moriarty, chaired the meeting. The meeting focused on: evaluating activities carried out jointly in the frame of the current ESSDE Work Programme 2018-2019; supporting teachers and trainers by increasing the attractiveness of VET and apprenticeships; supporting recruitment, retention and development of teaching professions; following-up on strategies for implementing previously adopted joint documents.

With no less than 17 countries EU countries experiencing shortages in the teaching profession, however, it is no surprise that the main topic underpinning all debates was the attractiveness of the teaching profession, and the joint text presenting a strategy for developing capacities to address this priority. In this context, the ESSDE delegates adopted an ambitious “Joint ETUCE/EFEE Declaration Towards a Framework of Action on the attractiveness of the teaching profession”, aimed at building a shared sectoral approach for a Framework of Action on enhancing the attractiveness of the teaching profession in society, thereby addressing definitions, challenges, principles and possible actions to jointly undertake to this end.

The meeting benefited from additional presentations from the European Commission on the ambitious initiatives on VET and apprenticeships, as well as on the attractiveness of the teaching profession. The delegates noted with concern that, despite some positive developments, education funding is still lagging behind, and that across Europe a coherent policy framework addressing the attractiveness of the teaching profession is still missing. ESSDE delegates provided best practice examples from their national contexts as well as joint national social partners’ presentations on social dialogue developments as regards negotiations and joint actions at all levels on initial and continuous professional development, and terms and conditions of employment, underpinning the joint commitment for the promotion of a teaching profession based on professionalism, autonomy, aspiration and teamwork, as well as on quality employment and working conditions, fair pay and career prospects.

Concluding the meeting, Susan Flocken, ETUCE European Director, praised the work of the Committee and the commitment to continue to explore the capacity building gaps for effective social dialogue at all levels as “the best way to address and to answer the vital question on how to make the teaching profession more attractive for young people in Europe. Enhancing the attractiveness of the teaching profession and the recognition of its value for society and of the social partners as the legitimate voice of teachers, educators and the education employer organisations is a vital element of quality education and of democracy, with the potential to contribute to more social equality across Europe.”

Download the Joint ETUCE/EFEE Declaration Towards a Framework of Action on the attractiveness of the teaching profession here