European Education, training and youth forum 2016
Connecting Education, the Labour Market and Society: Delivering the New Skills Agenda for Europe

The European Education, Training and Youth Forum is an annual event organized by the European Commission. As the name suggests, it focuses on education, training and youth, bringing together stakeholders from these highly interconnected fields.

This year, the forum took place on 20th and 21st October in Brussels (The Square, Rue Mont des Arts). Its central theme was the New Skills Agenda for Europe, adopted by the European Commission on 10th June 2016, and the best way to deliver on it. Indeed, stakeholders in the fields of education, training and youth can definitely play an essential role to turn the Skills Agenda into a daily reality,. for all European citizens.

The forum featured high-level panels, as well as interactive discussions and workshops. In particular, the workshops enabled stakeholders to contribute to upcoming initatives and discuss the implementation of future actions. Finally, the closing panel summarized the conclusions reached during the forum and discussed how best to harness them for delivery on the New Skills Agenda.

More specifically, the forum made some very important points, as observed by Anca David, who took part in the event. First of all, it highlighted the fact that the working environment changes five times faster than the educational curricula, which is why current national and European educational strategies should be updated on a much faster basis, in order for young people to easily find a job. Moreover, decision-makers should strive to be closer to young people and to engage them in the decision-making process, as education and training are the key elements to cope with life changes and other related problems.

Another issue raised during the discussion was that each young person’s background should be taken into account when it comes to education, and that teaching should be tailored so as to meet each student’s learning needs.

The subject of volunteering, too, was discussed at length. Clear expression of civic values, it is often perceived as an opportunity for those young people who cannot really fit into society. During the panels, however, voices from different backgrounds painted volunteering very differently, as a remarkably useful mobility experience, equipping young people with new skills and opening new job opportunities.

Finally, the closing sessions mainly focused on the idea that a balance needs to be struck between soft and hard skills. It was also pointed out that a young person’s profile should be very flexible, so as to suit the demands of an ever-changing labour market. All stakeholders should make a joint effort towards a more inclusive Europe, where diversity and innovation are embraced and where education (both formal and informal) is fostered as the key to young people’s easy access to the labour market.