EU must carefully support teachers

Written by Jana Žitňanská on 30 June 2017 in Opinion

Teachers in the EU need more support, but this must not result in unnecessary administrative burden, writes Jana Žitňanská.

Jana Žitňanská | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

The Commission's new skills agenda aims to promote better anticipation of future skills needs and develop better matching between skills and labour markets. Members of Parliament's culture and employment committees have fed into this agenda with a report which is currently being discussed among MEPs.

During the drafting phase of this report, I tabled two dozens of amendments which aim to reflect my experience with the topic. I welcome the attention given to teachers in the new skills agenda. I feel strongly about letting them do their job without an unnecessary administrative burden and offering them a valuable way of improving their skills throughout their career.

However, I would be more careful with the agency of the needed reforms. While I believe that the EU is a platform ideally positioned to share best practices and support mutual learning, I also think that the responsibility and the needed drive for improving the conditions of teachers' profession lies with the member states.


That is why I support calls on the member states to reflect the growing need to support teaching personnel, such as classroom assistants and special needs learning support assistants.

I am also quite happy that other MEPs agree about the importance of the profession and a significant part of the report is dedicated to teachers.

More generally, drawing from the needs of my country, I am concerned about the lack of meaningful measures to support low-skilled adults. We all should be doing our best to help them gain skills to be able to support themselves better and to avoid the risk of unemployment.

Finally - and this is reflected in my amendments - we should not forget about vulnerable groups, which very often remain out of the scope of policymakers' interest. The Commission is uniquely placed to further spread the need to provide easily accessible information on how adults benefit from improved skills throughout their careers. 

After meeting a number of successful entrepreneurs with disabilities, I know that entrepreneurship is a feasible, though still largely undervalued, option to support participation in the labour market for many people. Great potential lies in improving the digital skills of people with disabilities and in increasing their awareness of entrepreneurship as a potential labour market activity.


About the author

Jana Žitňanská (SK) is Parliament's ECR group shadow rapporteur on the new skills agenda for Europe

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