Key Competences and Basic Skills

The European Commission works with EU countries to support and reinforce the development of key competences and basic skills for all, from an early age and throughout life.

What is it about?

Everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning that develops key competences and basic skills. Key competences and basic skills are needed by all for personal fulfilment and development, employability, social inclusion and active citizenship.

Yet, the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results show that one in five pupils in the European Union have insufficient proficiency in reading, mathematics or science. Compared to the 2012 PISA results, the 2015 results show that the share of low achievers has increased to 20.6% (+4.0 percentage points) in science; to 19.7%, (+1.9 percentage points) in reading; and to 22.2%, (+ 0.1 percentage point) in maths. In addition, 44% of the EU population have low or no (19%) digital skills.

The European Commission works with EU countries to support and reinforce the development of key competences and basic skills for all, from an early age and throughout life.

What has been done so far?

In May 2018, the Council for Education, Youth, Culture and Sports adopted a Council Recommendation on Key Competences for Lifelong Learning which replaces an earlier Recommendation in this area. The approach is to promote key competences and basic skills development by:

  • Providing high-quality education, training and lifelong learning for all
  • Supporting educational staff
  • Promoting a variety of learning approaches and contexts, in a lifelong learning perspective
  • Exploring approaches to assessment and validation of key competences

What are the next steps?

By 2020 less than 15% of 15-year-olds should be classed as 'low-achieving' in those basic skills, as measured by PISA tests. The Commission supports EU countries in strengthening basic skills and key competences for all by facilitating mutual learning and exchange of good practice.