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by Danuta Jazlowiecka MEP

When I ask school-aged young people what they would like to do in the future, only a small percentage have clear ideas about their professional careers. This shows that teenagers are very often not able nor prepared to make decisions when it comes to choosing a university or even their studies. Therefore teaching them to be active, entrepreneurial, responsible, flexible and ready to adapt to changing social and economic conditions should be one of the main tasks faced by European schools in this century.

The sooner the better

In this context, investing in early childhood education is key as it lays down foundations for success in later life. Our priority for the future should therefore be to improve access to, and the quality of, childhood services from birth to the start of compulsory schooling. This is especially important for children who come from poor families from rural areas for whom education is very often their only chance to improve their future. Luckily, I observe positive changes happening in this area in my home country as we try hard to meet the objectives set by the European Commission to have 95% of pre- school children of 4 years or older participating in early child- hood education by 2020.

Being your own boss

In order to develop active and responsible teenagers we also have to concentrate on another key issue: changing our attitude and mentality towards education. When I compare Europe and USA at least one issue seems to explain the still existing competitive gap between these two continents. The European schools very often teach how to look for a job, whereas in the US students get the knowledge on how to create jobs. This should be our future! Young people need to understand that being entrepreneurial pays off! This however will not be possible without creating a business-friendly environment, as well as incentives for start-ups and young entrepreneurs.

The role of teachers

Last but not least we need to invest in teachers. They are the individuals who guide our children throughout the education process and have a tremendous influence on their future. Europe is still lagging behind in technological development. This can be changed only if we invest in training teachers and providing them with experience-based know-how that combines practice with theory, especially in the areas of new technologies and digitalisation. Applying innovative methods towards skills development should also be supported. Finally, the latest surveys on skills demand and supply show that employers often do not look for people with specific expertise, but rather skills that enable them to learn quickly and adapt to current, constantly changing, challenges.

Author :
EurActiv Network