Europe needs to tackle brain drain across its regions by investing in education
Ensuring equal opportunities for all Europeans and improving the skills mismatch without endangering the existence of disciplines must be the key targets of the renewed EU agenda for education, the European Committee of the Regions stresses. The assembly of EU's cities and regions adopted its position to the European Commission's recent initiatives in the field of education on Thursday 30 November.
In an opinion drafted by Csaba Borboly (RO/EPP), President of Harghita County Council, the Committee emphasises that the access to educational opportunities must not to be determined by family income, the student's origin or mother tongue. To address the brain drain within and across Europe's regions, specific support should be provided for projects and measures for the development of training programmes and school and higher educational infrastructure in the less developed regions that are often facing a downward demographic and educational spiral.
"It is also important to allow for greater support from the European Investment Bank and the European funds for regional initiatives aimed at developing education", rapporteur Borboly points out.
The opinion warns that moving towards more results-orientated financing and making higher education, training and publicly funded education systems subordinate to the requirements of effectiveness, direct competitiveness and rapid employability could endanger the existence of disciplines and skills whose disappearance "would cause considerable cultural, community and economic damage", affecting particularly minority communities. Instead it suggests targeting the mismatch between the skills and needs of the labour market by introducing needs-based training courses and more flexibility into higher education.
"A student should be able to choose freely between courses offered at different universities and attend short training courses provided by vocational organisations and chambers, with the involvement and consultation of all relevant stakeholders, including local employers. Successful completion of training of this kind should be recognised as at least partially equivalent to university courses", Borboly explains.
The Committee also calls for new measures and more resources for the internationalisation of education and vocational training systems and warns against the consequences of United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU, which could lead to uncertainty as to the recognition and equivalence of qualifications and degrees and harm the excellent cooperation with higher education institutions and R&D centres. "This collateral damage must be limited as far as possible provided that the principle of reciprocity is upheld", Borboly stresses.
Furthermore, the opinion points out that faster identification and recognition of the skills, aptitudes and qualifications of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers is crucial for their educational integration and involvement in the labour market.
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