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Speaking at the informal Education Council in Madrid, on 14 April, Education Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou gave a glimpse of her Youth on the Move' initiative. The new programme, planned for June 2010, is aimed at meeting the educational targets set in the Europe 2020' programme. There should be four lines of action for the initiative: attractiveness of higher education; high quality lifelong learning; transnational learning mobility; and young people's participation in society. The initiative should also have budgetary consequences as Vassiliou calls for increasing the number of participants in the various EU educational programmes from 370,000 to over one million. The commissioner thus talks of a new integrated programme for learning mobility under the next financial perspectives.

As for the attractiveness of higher education, Vassiliou repeats the bare facts. In the EU, less than one person in three (31.1%) aged 30-34 has a university degree. This compares to 40% in the US and over 50% in Japan. The EU must then increase the share of young people in higher or tertiary education. The Europe 2020' target on tertiary education attainment talks of at least 40% of the younger generation having a tertiary degree.

Vassiliou's second line of action focuses on building a strong basis for lifelong learning systems. The commissioner notes the need to reach out to a larger population than universities have traditionally been targeting. This must include students with a vocational education and training background as well as adult learners. Europe also has to tackle the problem of early school leavers. Vassiliou will propose a Council recommendation on how to reduce early school leaving, notably reaching the Europe 2020' target of reducing school dropouts to no more than 10%. This also means school systems catering better for the growing diversity of pupils, exploiting new technologies and reacting to labour market demands.

The third line of action aims at promoting transnational learning mobility for all young people and tackling the 'remaining' obstacles to mobility. The commissioner thus plans to propose an update of the 2001 recommendation on learning mobility dealing with obstacles at national level. She additionally talks of intensifying mobility for teachers and trainers as multipliers stimulating overall learning mobility as well as mobilising all potential actors and resources at national and regional levels.

The fourth line of action is fostering young people's participation in society. Vassiliou promises to propose a Council recommendation on the recognition and validation of prior experience and learning seen as opening the doors to further learning. The commissioner stresses the role of non-formal education in helping young people prepare for a new job, giving school dropouts a 'second chance' and making young migrants feel closer to their host communities.

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Publication:European Report
Date:Apr 15, 2010

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