EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

Educational and training services: Anticipating the challenges

The education and training sector is not only an important employer in itself, but is also expected to play a key role as a provider of skills for the knowledge-based economy, contributing to smart, sustainable and inclusive growth as set out in the Europe 2020 strategy. This study’s first aim was to provide an analysis of the quantitative and qualitative mismatches between demand and supply of labour and skills in the education sector, which might ultimately contribute to its employment performance. The second aim was to assess performance of the education and training sector and its capacity for providing adequate skills across the economy.

Engine of smart growth

Educational and training services is a complex sector: it features both public and private providers, as well as voluntary ones, such as NGOs. It services all age groups and inhabits numerous spaces: formal (primary, secondary and tertiary levels of general education and vocational education), non-formal (on-the-job training, voluntary education, self-guided learning provided by companies, organisations, networks, etc. in structured contexts) and informal (learning from family, friends, colleagues, etc.). With eight million jobs in 2008 in the formal area alone and around 5% of GDP spent in public education in 2006 across the EU, the vital role of the education and training sector in the economic and social performance of the EU becomes very apparent.

Between 2001 and 2008, employment in formal education and training grew by almost 5% across the EU. There was, however, significant variation across the different subsectors: reductions of more than 10% in upper secondary education alongside increases ranging from nearly 3% in primary education to more than 19% in pre-primary and tertiary to 61% in post-secondary education. No official statistics for employment in the sector have been published since the financial crisis and recession, but given that staff costs represented on average 71% of total expenditure in the sector in 2006, it can be assumed that the recent austerity measures taken in many Member States have had a direct impact on employment figures. The autumn 2011 edition of the ERM quarterly reports on 140,000 teaching jobs cut in Italy and a further 80,000 implemented or planned cuts in France. Thus, the task for education and training to fuel smart, sustainable and inclusive growth is becoming even more challenging.

The main findings are summarised in the overview report that maps trends and drivers of change based on statistical analysis, desk research, in-depth interviews and a survey of sector stakeholders and it elaborates four scenarios illustrating possible futures for the sector and in six case study reports (FECCOO, Itpreneurs, MAYDAY, ATKM, Aalto, Teach First) of good practice in anticipation and management of change.

Scenarios for the future

Eurofound’s research has identified nine most important drivers of the sector’s future up to 2020: demographic developments; value attached to certified qualifications; the role of ICT in education; diversification of access to learning experiences; consequences of globalisation for qualifications; increasing pressure on public finances; political and public focus on sustainability (economic and ecological); strategic role of education and training in labour market and social policies and finally, commercialisation of the supply of qualifications and competences. Only two of these nine drivers (commercialisation and value attached to qualifications) are both uncertain and of critical impact, and thus combinations of these two drivers give rise to four possible scenarios for the future of the sector and the outlook for jobs within it.

  1. The mall. Employment prospects in the public education sector are quite favourable, although class sizes increase and real wages decline. A growing private education sector, including expanding in-company training departments, offers better pay but does not value teachers’ qualifications highly.
  2. The department store. A dynamic and diverse labour market exists for qualified teachers, with strong demand from both public and private employers, including international players, which successfully compete with public education institutions for qualified staff by offering better career prospects and wages.
  3. The castle. The labour market for teachers is stable. Formal qualifications hold a high value, which contributes to the professionalisation of the sector, but also makes it more difficult for teachers to change jobs and to work in other parts of the sector.
  4. The workshop. Demand for general subject teachers declines, but this does not lead to unemployment for teaching staff, as thanks to higher demand for vocational education and training (VET) teachers and trainers, a reasonable balance in the labour market is achieved.

All four scenarios foresee that teachers and trainers will need to continue to be ready to constantly develop their skills, including language and ICT skills; to adapt to requirements to change their role; and to adapt to new target groups and new learning environments, quite often without adequate compensation for the additional effort invested. The labour market conditions for teachers and trainers vary considerably between the four scenarios, but all versions of the future assume at least stable, if not increasing, demand for teachers. This is mainly the result of a large number of teachers taking retirement up to 2020 and the relatively favourable perceived career prospects in education and training, even with progressively less attractive real wages and more demanding working conditions in the sector.

The scenarios outlined here are only possibilities for the future – plausible, internally consistent and developing logically from the current state of the sector. However, they provide a vehicle to develop long-term visions of opportunities, barriers and requirements. Taken up by policymakers and other key stakeholders at both state and European level, they can serve as a useful early warning system and a navigation tool for shaping the future of the education and training sector and the development of its workforce.

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