Education social partners in Europe call for strengthened social dialogue at all levels to face transformations


European social partners set out future key actions and demand for strengthened participation in the governance of the European Education Area 2025.

On 20 October 2020, education social partner delegations met online for the annual European Sectoral Social Dialogue plenary meeting.

Through sectoral social dialogue, social partners for education are brought together to negotiate and discuss relevant topics of joint interest. The annual plenary meeting is the decision-making body of the joint committee, where ETUCE delegates discuss with the European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE).  

This year, ETUCE and EFEE conducted a mid-term evaluation of the Work Programme 2020-2021, and set out the main priorities for the upcoming year, such as attractiveness of the teaching profession, investment in education and public-private developments, education and environment, and innovation in education. The participants discussed current and future joint projects on inclusive VET, digitalisation, occupational health and safety, social dialogue capacity building to address issues of attractiveness and shortage in the profession, and quality higher education and research.

ETUCE and EFEE member organisations also exchanged with the Commission on the European Education Area (EEA) initiatives to achieve quality education and training by 2025. At the heart of the social partners’ demands, lies the necessity of the European Commission to actively engage ETUCE and EFEE in the EEA 2025 governance. The trade union delegation raised critical points towards the Education employer organisations and the European commission on the need to support teachers and trainers for a successful green and digital transition; to foster social dialogue at all levels so that reforms respond to real needs; and to protect the public nature of education funding and governance.

Commenting on the European Skills agenda, the European Director Susan Flocken stated: “We need a joint commitment to consider quality education, including VET, holistically: a narrow focus on skills for the labour market will leave social competences lagging behind. It means also to ensure that teachers and trainers are provided with quality tools and quality working environments: decent working conditions, health and safety measures, professional development, especially during these times of the global pandemic”.

In view of the schools and education institutions’ reopening across Europe, the social partners discussed the implementation and follow up of their Joint ETUCE/EFEE Statement on the impact of Covid-19 on sustainable education systems at times of crisis and beyond (June 2020).

The plenary also paid tribute to French teacher Samuel Paty, victim of a terror attack near his school. in support of freedom of expression, democratic citizenship, inclusion and tolerance.