The fourth industrial revolution represents a great opportunity for the EU economy as well as a great challenge.
However, member states need to address the existing mismatch between what modern employers need and what people are trained to do. 70 million Europeans currently lack adequate reading and writing skills, while 40 per cent of employers cannot find people with the right skills to grow and innovate.
The ongoing transition towards the digital economy poses challenges to employment that are very similar across the member states. It is thus laudable that the Commission is attempting to increase employment, competitiveness and growth through the new skills agenda package.
Yet there are some significant shortcomings in the Commission's approach, notably in its lack of focus on teachers. Not one of the 10 agenda initiatives is dedicated to pedagogues. The main contribution of the Parliament's own initiative report is calling for remedies of this insufficiency.
The human capital concept, used by the Commission in the agenda, is defined by the OECD as "a person's set of skills, abilities, characteristics that enable them to create personal, social and economic wellbeing."
The level of capital is influenced by a number of factors, including genetic, social and educational, and it positively affects one's employability. We cannot overlook providing proper education, training and funding to teachers. Without them any attempts to boost the employability of European citizens are destined to fail.
My goal as the EPP group's shadow rapporteur is to highlight this very point. At university, aspiring teachers have to be properly trained in digital skills and literacy, entrepreneurial skills, creative thinking and inter-sectorial approaches, in order to be able to transmit this knowledge and skills to their classrooms.
Training of pedagogues in these respects should be provided throughout their entire careers, and be adjusted to the specific level of education they are employed in. Developing these skills will also require a focus on practical experience, which should be at least partially acquired in other EU states or even beyond.
During its 30 years of existence, Erasmus and related programmes have provided grants to 1.8 million educational staff workers. However, we should further boost the accessibility of this programme by increasing its funds and simplifying the application process to teachers after 2020.
To summarise, in order to truly boost employability of European citizens, there is a clear need to focus on the people that help us build relevant skills: the teachers. Therefore, I, together with my MEP colleagues, call on the Commission to consider this important element and possibly include new initiatives for teachers within the framework.