Education Minister Ruairi Quinn will host conferences on both topics during the six-month term that continues until the end of June. He said education and training have a key role to play in ensuring sustainable growth and jobs, the main theme of Ireland’s presidency and in tackling the unemployment crisis.
“Improving training, skills and access to education will play a critical role in equipping citizens, particularly young people, to find work and in attracting investment into the EU,” Mr Quinn said.
“I am determined to work towards preventing the development of a lost generation with the negative long-term personal and social consequences that would have for all Europeans.”
One focus will be on improving policy support for teacher educators, with a presidency conference on their role due to be held. Another conference on the theme of assessment and evaluation for better learning and school systems is also being scheduled.
The Department of Education said a conference will be held on the theme of quality assurance in qualifications framewoks, with a focus on the involvement of those in employment, and on quality assurance of learning outcomes in relation to labour market needs.
Another focus during the presidency will be improving participation levels in higher education, but particularly among non-traditional learners and students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Ireland will probably also finalise negotiations on rules for the next round of the European Social Fund and the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). The complex nature of the EGF has led to criticism as the Department of Education has had to return tens of million of euro it had received from the fund to help retrain workers made redundant by employers such as Dell and Waterford Crystal.
One of the legislative priorities for the EU in the next six months is also for regulations to set up Erasmus for All, which will bring together EU and international schemes for education, youth and sport. By replacing seven existing programmes with one, it is intended to make it easier to seek grants, and to reduce duplication and fragmentation.