How the EU should support teachers in meeting professional needs

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV Media network.

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The European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) organises a public event on in Brussels, Belgium, on 19 September.

ETUCE represents 132 Education Trade unions in 51 countries, in total numbers 11 million education staff all over Europe.

On 17 November, 2017 the EU leaders adopted the European Pillar of Social Rights. The first principle is about Education, training and life-long learning, defining that:

Everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning in order to maintain and acquire skills that enable them to participate fully in society and manage successfully transitions in the labour market.”

When the EU leaders adopted this document, they discussed, for the first time, the importance of this principle and about the future of education. They identified new policy goals on education for the future: to develop education of high quality, such as excellent training and attractive perspectives for teachers.

The aim is to reduce the number of 70 million low skilled adults in Europe, focus on teaching key competences and transversal skills, active citizenship and equal opportunities in education and life.

In this policy objective, the question is how to support the teachers in their professional needs and how to prepare them for the classroom.

On the other side, professional support to teachers is not enough when the profession is ageing, not well paid and suffers from shortages, unattractiveness and huge gender inequalities. In the OECD countries (Education at a glance, 2015) over 30% of the teachers are at least 50 years old.

The profession faces a major gender imbalance as 7 out of 10 teachers are women in OECD countries, in nurseries and kindergartens, 97% of the teachers are women. At the same time, teachers’ salaries are low compared to other similarly educated full-time workers.

The range of teachers’ salaries is between 78% and 94% of the salaries of full-time workers with tertiary education (OECD). The level of teachers’ salaries depends on a country’s relative wealth and the financial and economic crises in 2008 had a direct impact on teachers’ salaries, which were either frozen or cut in some countries.

The ETUCE is the teachers’ voice in Europe. Its public hearing aims to contribute to discussions on improving teaching and supporting teachers in facing these challenges.

The hearing will provide the opportunity to stakeholders to discuss the role of teachers in the future European education and training strategy and learn about the outcomes of the ETUCE project “Education Trade Unions for the Teaching Profession. Strengthening the capacity of education trade unions to represent teachers’ professional needs in social dialogue”.

The project seeks to build the capacity of education trade unions to represent teachers’ professional needs in all education sectors and to enhance their professional issues as a crucial matter of social dialogue.

Representatives from Brussels-based policymakers, education trade unions and education employers in Europe as well as other prominent organisations are invited.

If you are interested in participating please register with the ETUCE Secretariat ( by Friday.

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