Education and Culture Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou and renowned US economist and author Jeremy Rifkin addressed the 2012 Jean Monnet Conference, which focused this year on the role of education and training as a catalyst for sustainable growth.
Education and training are at the heart of the political agenda as European Union leaders grapple with the crisis and its consequences for young people who have borne its brunt: unemployment among 15-24-year-olds has increased by 50% since the start of the crisis in 2008 and, today, one in five young Europeans – more than five million – are without a job.
The Europe 2020 strategy for jobs and growth has set benchmarks to reduce early school leaving and increase the share of graduates. Educational and training institutions need to increase their impact through the use of new teaching methods which promote open, flexible and innovative ways of learning. They also need to focus more on developing skills which are in demand on the labour market. These are just some of the issues that were debated at the conference.
It was also an opportunity to discover information about EU grants which are available in 2013 under the Jean Monnet programme, which aims to encourage excellence in teaching and research in European integration studies at higher education institutions within and outside the European Union. European integration studies focus on the origins and evolution of the European Communities and the European Union. The Jean Monnet Programme funds individuals and projects in 76 countries and more than 800 universities offer Jean Monnet courses as part of their curricula. The Jean Monnet Programme includes a network of 1 700 professors, who teach 265 000 students every year. The 2013 budget for the Jean Monnet programme is € 8 million.