ETUCE Position on European initiative on individual learning accounts

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The European Commission’s Work Programme for 2021 announced a forthcoming “EU initiative on individual learning accounts (ILA) to empower all individuals to participate in training” on which the European Commission will present a proposal for a Council Recommendation in November/December 2021. The European Commission’s  public consultation is open until 16 July 2021 and its Inception Impact Assessment provides more insights on this policy.

The main challenges for teachers in relation to continuous professional development (CPD) are connected to access, financing, recognition, and quality assurance. OECD TALIS 2018 (Vol. I) reports that the main barriers perceived by teachers regarding CPD are the high costs - which are mostly supported by the teachers, scheduling conflicts, family responsibility and lack of CPD offer or support by the employer. In many countries the financial contribution by the governments provided to teachers to take paid educational leave to update their competences or qualifications is not adequate to cover all the cost of the CPD or a new qualification. ETUCE believes that the first principle of the European Pillar of Social Rights should guarantee the right to access to quality initial education and continuous professional training for teachers. Still, access to CPD and paid education leave is not a right for teachers in every European country, although this should be assured equally for all teachers and education staff in every education sector and all school types. National education systems should establish the appropriate conditions (time used, quality of providers, financial support, etc.) to help teachers use their right.

In line with the ETUC’s position, education trade unions also believe that instead of focusing on one single financial mechanism, the European Commission’s initiative should concentrate on how to guarantee the right to access adult learning, employee training and paid education leave to all adults and employees, including the public sector workers. Defining national requirements on qualifications and competences of teachers provided by initial education and professional training is a national competence. Only after having established the status of continuous professional development as a right in the national legislation or via collective agreements, it is possible to discuss the development of financial mechanisms to support paid leave, for example by using ILAs or any other tools that national education social partners can agree with.

The initiative should motivate the EU member states to set up or improve the financial mechanism of their own choice in order to support all adults’, including teachers’ access to high quality and inclusive continuous professional development, in line with existing legislation and collective agreements. It should be the responsibility of the Member States and the education sector social partners to decide if their financial mechanism for ensuring teachers’ continuous professional development (CPD) is sufficient enough or if it needs improvement.

ETUCE considers it more effective to strengthen the EU level monitoring and exchange of best practices among EU member states on financing and ensuring quality teachers’ continuous professional development than establishing EU level legislation on individual learning accounts.

 The ETUCE Position on “European initiative on individual learning accounts to empower all individuals to participate in training” can be found here