European Social Dialogue: ETUCE and EFEE agree new joint work programme


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2020 marks ten years since ETUCE and EFEE, representatives of education trade unions and employers at European level, launched the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education. The social partners have now agreed a long-term vision for their joint work and set out concrete priorities for 2020-2021.

The European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and the European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE) are the European social partners for education, representing education trade unions and employers respectively in the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education (ESSDE). On 30 March 2020, the ESSDE Steering Group met to kick off a new working period for 2020 and 2021.  They adopted a timely new work programme for the next two years, covering areas of mutual interest for the ESSDE partners.

The adoption of this new work programme in the year 2020 is remarkable in two regards. First, 2020 marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of the ESSDE. Since 2010 the social partners have advanced ESSDE with a shared aim to improve the quality of education across Europe and the environment in which education authorities and education personnel work. Since its creation, the ESSDE continues to grow aiming to become a space for effective and efficient social dialogue with the potential to deliver meaningful results for the people who work in the education sector.

2020 is also the year in which the new European Commission under President Von der Leyen launched its agenda for “A Union that strives for more”. ETUCE and EFEE see a strong and continuous European Social Dialogue in Education as a vital contribution to addressing the challenges of today’s society, including social justice, inclusion, democracy, the green transition and digitalisation.

With that in mind, ETUCE and EFEE adopted a work programme for 2020-2021 which tackles new and future challenges and offers a long-term vision for their joint action. This is all the more important as the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak causes an unprecedented health, social and economic crisis, with dramatic repercussions on students as well as education personnel and authorities.

This new work programme touches upon a wide range of matters crucial to the improvement and sustainability of the education sector in the EU. They include:

  • the attractiveness of the teaching profession, which continues to be severely undermined by shortages and a lack of continuous professional development
  • investment for quality education and training
  • social dialogue promotion in education and related capacity building
  • sustainable quality employment and working conditions, including occupational health and safety
  • implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights in the education sector, especially through the European Semester
  • updating knowledge and fostering innovation in education
  • enhancing collaborative school leadership

EFEE and ETUCE are fully aware of the fast-paced environment in which education systems are evolving. As a result, the 2020-21 work programme particularly focuses on growing issues that will continue to have a key role in our mission to achieve high quality education for all. This new document identifies the urgent need to address environmental sustainability and to provide people with green skills and attitudes. It also emphasises that it is crucial to develop digital competences alongside other basic and transversal skills. In light of the growing diversity of European society, inclusion, equality and democratic issues are also brought to the forefront around a set of common values.

The work programme also addresses topics relevant to specific education sectors such as Higher Education and Research, where we will work on life-long learning and academic career pathways.

ESSDE Work Programme 2020-2021