There have been a series of initiatives over the last year or so to kick off a new debate about education. In part these have been driven by the student protests in many countries following the economic collapse and recession. But the debate has largely focused on academic education – at school and university level.
Sadly there has been little consideration of vocational education and training policies. Yet with youth unemployment soaring to over 50 per cent in some European countries, education and training policy needs a fresh focus. And education and training cannot be examined in isolations. Education and training is affected by and in turn affects economic and labour market policies.
Neo-liberal, market driven policies have resulted in the present high levels of youth unemployment. Yet the politicians’ answers to the crisis – austerity and cutbacks and further privatisation – will only make matters worse.
The recent elections in France, Greece and Germany have led to new talk of a strategy for European growth. Any such strategy needs to include measures to promote education and training and to reduce youth unemployment. This means we need an alternative to the present unimaginative and failed European policies on education and training. Such an alternative can only come from within the education and training community. Yet sadly, there is no natural forum for such a discussion to take place.
We welcome your ideas.