A fruitful plenary meeting for the social dialogue committee of education


At the plenary meeting of the European sectoral social dialogue committee for education on 14 December 2023, ETUCE and EFEE adopted their joint Work Programme for the period 2024-2026. The agreement was reached after a lively negotiation between trade union and employer representatives about the importance of ensuring more public investments in education and the impact of high work overload and intensification of teachers’ working hours.

This work programme focuses on a number of crucial issues to tackle the shortage of teachers and enhance the attractiveness of the teaching profession. ETUCE and EFEE commit to work on strengthening social dialogue across Europe, with a focus on measures regarding occupational health and safety, digitalisation and innovation in the education sector, particularly related to the use of AI and the implementation of telework and the right to disconnect. The work programme also includes advocacy actions in support of higher public investment in quality education and training, and fostering democratic school cultures, equality and inclusion in education and training. In addition, ETUCE and EFEE will address specific issues related to higher education and research, and for promoting the status and attractiveness of the VET profession.

Delegates discussed with the European Commission about the ongoing reform of the European sectoral social dialogue, which is negatively impacting the capacity of sectoral social partners to ensure appropriate representation of workers and employers across Europe. This struggle faced by sectoral social dialogue comes as the result of the cuts to the budget devoted to EU social dialogue and the lukewarm political support received by sectoral social partners from the European Commission. ETUCE and EFEE requested the Commission to introduce more flexible criteria set for organising social dialogue meetings to allow adequate participation of member organisation in the ESSDE work.

The Committee also adopted the joint “Framework Of Actions on the Attractiveness of the Teaching Profession”, which is the result of the work carried out by ETUCE and EFEE in the dedicated project that also led to the publication of an important research report. This Framework of Actions commit ETUCE and EFEE members to supporting and enhancing social dialogue activities at national and European level, and on implementing actions covering various aspects of teachers’ working conditions, continuous professional development and initial teacher training, mentoring for teachers, retainment in the profession, occupational health and safety measures, prevention of third-party violence and harassment at work, as well as initiatives to promote and improve the attractiveness of the profession and the status of teachers.

In addition, the delegates adopted the “Joint Recommendations on Promoting Environmental Sustainability in School Learning Teaching and Management”, which is the product of the project concluded in November 2023 by ETUC and EFEE. These recommendations include a commitment for employers and workers in education to promoting and improving education for environmental sustainability, contributing to the work on green skills and competences at European level. ETUCE and EFEE members will unite their efforts towards ensuring the successful design and implementation of Education for Environmental Sustainability with meaningful social dialogue on the national and European levels.

The delegates discussed the European VET teachers survey being developed by the European agency Cedefop that aims at supporting teachers' professional development in VET. ETUCE and EFEE member organisations worked together in support of Cedefop to assess the feasibility of a pan-European survey on school leaders, teachers, students and in-company trainers in vocational education and training. This survey will be elaborated by Cedefop in a tripartite setting and, for the time being, receives the support of 16 Member States.

The European Commission also presented the Eurydice 2023 reports and the findings of the latest European Education and Training Monitor (ETM). This year's edition of the ETM highlights how teacher shortages are a growing concern, necessitating a comprehensive policy approach for both recruitment and retention. These figures met the concern of ETUCE delegates, who pointed out how supporting the attractiveness of the profession with adequate public investment, training, and career development, represent the main solution to the challenges being faced by the education sector across Europe (for more information read this article).