Investing in human capital is essential for the sustainable development, but also to ensure stability and security in the Euro-Mediterranean region

Source: European Economic and Social Committee

2018 Euromed Summit of Economic and Social Councils and similar institutions

Members of civil society representative bodies from countries of the Euro-Mediterranean region met in Turin to discuss the situation of education and training in the area. Although the challenges faced by each of the countries are different, as access to education and training is very unbalanced in the region, the general consensus was that investing in human capital is essential for the sustainable development of the countries, but also to ensure regional stability and security.

Recent data show a generally poor performance of the labour market in the Euromed region, with limited job creation, a low activity rate (especially among women, less than 25% on average), extreme disadvantage of youth and women participation in the labour market and an increase in the number of persons Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETS) in risk of exclusion. The education and training sector is therefore called to lay a central role in equipping people with the right skills.

As stated by Luca Jahier, President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), “these are exactly the times when our involvement as civil society organisations is key to foster dialogue, create bridges and improve the future of the citizens in our societies”. Along the same line, Cesare Onestini, Director of the European Training Foundation (ETF), pointed out that “the key conditions of success in human capital development are the quality, continuity and regularity of social concertation between the government authorities and the social partners’ organisations, including civil society”.

Luca Jahier also highlighted that education and training is a very important topic not only in the Mediterranean region, but also for the civil society representative bodies, “that have a key role to play in developing policies in these areas”. The main goal of the Euromed summit was to add inputs to draft a report, “a truly collaborative work able to produce recommendations with a true regional added value to policy makers, in Europe and in all other Mediterranean countries”, in Jahier’s words.

Quality EVT systems

The participants discussed during the summit the challenges posed by education in the region and contributed to a collective reflection that will give rise to an in-depth report that will be sent to Governments of the represented countries. During the debate, proposals were made to to enhance Educational and Vocational Training (EVT) and lifelong learning in all Euromed countries as part of a project aimed at consolidating strong democracies, solid economies and societies with less inequalities. It was also agreed that the EU should contribute to ensuring the design of a quality EVT system in Euromed countries and, with that aim, a number of proposals were made for joint action to: increase networking, e-learning and cooperation between education providers; promoting projects to mainstream gender equality in EVT activities; supporting the development of national qualification frameworks. The EESC also encourages the Commission to propose, in coordination with the International Labour Organization (ILO) a “country programme strategy” and to coordinate its work with other international organisations, as the United Nations, the IMF or the World Bank´.

Context

The Euro-Mediterranean Summit of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions aims at promoting greater understanding of the main issues affecting organised civil society in the Euromed region and at discussing the common challenges they face. This year, the event was co-organised by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and the European Training Foundation (ETF), and exchanges focused on education and training.

MIL OSI