New Skills Agenda launched

On 20 June the European Commission organised a high-level event to launch the New Skills Agenda for Europe to boost human capital, employability and competitiveness, adopted on 10 June 2016. EPA was represented at the event by Vice President Janko Korosec.
On 10 June, European Commissioners Thyssen and Katainen announced the adoption of a new and comprehensive Skills Agenda for Europe, that was officially launched at the Brussels event. The aim of this new policy framework is to ensure that the right training, skills and support is available to European Union citizens and to equip them for good-quality jobs and help them fulfil their potential as confident, active citizens. According to the communication of the EC it will ultimately boost employability, competitiveness and growth in Europe. The agenda includes provisions for non-EU citizens and their inclusion in education and the labour market.


Fragmented notes brought home from the Fundamental Rights Forum

The EU Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) organised the first European Fundamental Rights Forum in Vienna on 20-23 June 2016. The event brought together about 700 people from and beyond Europe from policy, practice, governments, civil society, research, arts and several other fields. The organisers did the huge job of discussing the issues of inclusion, the refugee crisis and digital challenges on a human rights basis by providing the organisers with an enormous amount of food for thought as well as opportunities for networking and discussion.

The following paragraphs are not intended to be a full report, but rather a collection of a few thoughts and issues that echoed in me as president of EPA, vice president of the Lifelong Learning and Social Platforms, as a child rights activist for over 25 years, as an apt reader, a Hungarian and a mother. It is unusual for this blog, but I hope they will also resonate with the readers, and given the richness of the programme I couldn’t find any other ways to make a report.


New network launched by the Commission to support those in greatest need

The FEAD (Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived) Network launch conference was held in Brussels on 2-3 June, with over 200 delegates, including representatives of EPA as well as its national members from Slovenia and Portugal. The network is aiming at not only supporting to deliver the programmes financed by decentralised FEAD, but also to build synergies to give leverage to the support provided, it is a new open membership community for people providing assistance to the most deprived in Europe.
Through the Network, those working to reduce the worst forms of poverty in European countries are able to share good practice and work together to develop new ideas. In addition to regular network meetings, the Network members stay in touch through an animated online community.


Joint Statement: The Alliance for Investing in Children welcomes Council Conclusions acknowledging the need to address child poverty

The Conclusions adopted by the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumers Affairs Council on Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion: An integrated approach, are a welcome step in addressing child poverty and promoting children’s well-being. The Alliance for Investing in Children appreciates the initiative of the Dutch Presidency to address the persistence of child poverty in Europe and encourages the EU institutions and Member States to do more to reverse this disturbing trend which is blighting the lives of younger generations in Europe.


ESP Advisory Council to boost development and recognition of entrepreneurial skill-sets among young people

JA Europe and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO) has just announced in a press release the establishment of the ESP Advisory Council in support of the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass, a unique international qualification in entrepreneurial skills, knowledge and competences for 15-19 year olds. EPA has been invited to participate at the Advisory Council.

In line with the upcoming New Skills Agenda for Europe, the ESP Advisory Council is committed to boost recognition of the competences and skills young people acquire through initiatives like the Entrepreneurial Skills Pass and promote greater uptake of entrepreneurship education at schools across Europe.


Can we learn from the PISA-champinons?

The Finnish school system is known all over world, or at least in the OECD world, to be the best in almost everything, and many are the delegations that travel to Finland to see and experience the Finnish schools.

I was on one of those delegations last week as a part of the Microsoft Summer Institute (more on that later), and what I saw on the visit to a primary school in the outskirts of Helsinki was not very different to what I would experience in a Danish school. On average, the teachers teach 24 lessons a week (in Denmark 25), and the schools have more or less the same funding as in Denmark, so the magic comes from something else than time and funding.


Parents, let’s play together

Message and call for action on World Play Day (28 May) and International Children’s Day (29 May) 2016

Did you know that playing a lot as a child also helps you to have a better job when you are an adult? Play helps children to have higher IQ, to have better self-control and also to relax, thus play is essential for all children and they should not be deprived of it at any circumstances, it doesn't matter if they are refugees or attending expensive private schools.

If you remember the last time you engaged in a good game of Activity or Scrabble, you will agree with the opinion that it is very similar in the case of adults. This is why European parents applaud the choice of topic for World Play Day 2016, 'Play for all ages'.  Playing definitely is not only for children, and we are doing our best to encourage parents and grandparents to play. As WPD is the day before International Children’s Day, this weekend should all be about children and playing. We are calling parents and guardians to share what they are playing to celebrate the day with the #WorldPlayDay and #ParentsPlay hashtags this weekend. (Please protect the privacy of your children and do not post photos with their faces in it.)