Regions team up for jobs and education

Through cross-border cooperation (CBC) between educational institutions, the EdTWIN project is giving pupils and teachers the opportunity to gain new knowledge, be more mobile and improve their prospects of work in the Centrope region.

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Projects such as this are helping the EU to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy by 2020, as set out in the EU 2020 growth strategy. The EU is facing some tough challenges, including an ageing population, an insufficiently qualified workforce, the need for greater innovation, striking a balance between economic growth and environmental degradation, and ensuring secure, clean energy supplies. Regional policy projects across the EU are playing an active role in dealing with these and many other challenges, by undertaking projects designed to generate employment, raise educational achievement, develop renewable energy sources, boost productivity and give all citizens access to opportunities. The projects and the regions play a pivotal role in this, as they generate real results that contribute to achieving the strategy’s key goals.

Events are being organised across the region, including lesson observations, workshops and  the recent ‘Danube Twins’ event, where 500 pupils from Vienna and Bratislava attended a course together, spending one day in their neighbouring city.

Once dividing, now uniting

Historical events in and around Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia have resulted in several generations of communities living in isolation from each other. Social, linguistic and economic barriers can still be observed between Austria and its neighbours, with most students learning English as their first foreign language. The standard of living also remains higher in Austria, and Austrians fear cheap Slovak, Czech and Hungarian labour, leading to mistrust between people in the border regions.

Initiated by the Viennese School Institute in 1995, the EdTWIN project now runs simultaneously in three bilateral CBC programmes: Austria-Czech Republic, Austria-Slovakia and Austria-Hungary, and is helping overcome any remaining divisions, including fears and prejudices. Through the cooperation, a study identifying key skills for successful integration into the labour market of the Central Europe region has been conducted. Using this, EdTWIN is developing teaching material and helping students, teachers and inspectors from elementary schools, high schools and vocational training schools to acquire these skills.

Learning from each other

Special emphasis is placed on learning neighbouring languages, notably through workshops, given that the Czech, Slovak and Hungarian languages have rapidly grown in importance in Vienna. Other activities include financing of school partnerships, lesson observations, joint art and culture activities, production of joint teaching material, teacher workshops and vocational internships. One interesting activity is ‘Cross-Border Occupational Orientation’ where students about to embark on a career are introduced to a course and are then responsible for planning and organising a visit to a neighbouring region.

Projects such as this are producing real results and playing a central role in helping the EU achieve the goals set out in the Europe 2020 growth strategy. Conscious of the rapidly changing world it lives in, the EU is looking to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy, with ambitious targets covering employment, innovation, education, social inclusion and climate/energy.

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