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The future of education: Which competences do we need in the future?


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Chances are you felt ill-equipped for adult life after leaving school - to no fault of your own! As society changes quickly, educational systems are slower to catch on.

How can we reform educational systems to empower students to develop skills, values and attitudes needed to succeed in life?

What kind of education would make young people feel like they could take on the challenge of shaping their societies?

What are the skills students most need to learn?

The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has selected some of its resources to provide young people like you with background information and insights linked to the topic above.

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The European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has selected some of its resources to provide young people like you with background information and insights linked to the topic above.

Briefing, April 2020

At a Glance, February 2020


Martynas Inocentas
22 January 2021
Hi, my name is Martynas, I am 19 years old, and I am a Law student from Vilnius, Lithuania.

I have read many ideas here, but basically they all talk about reforming education systems in that manner, that students would have the opportunity to learn all those skills like computer knowledge et cetera, that our modern and dynamic world requires. I have a completely different opinion here.

The biggest problem I encounter when interacting with people of my age is an enormous lack of philosophical knowledge about the world. I may not sound really correct by saying that, it is based on my own experience, but to make this point, I will use a good old comparison of different generations as an example. Of course, young people are really smart in general, and they really do have some really useful skills, that are very useful in today’s world, but, exempla gratii, older people have a better understanding about what world is itself, what is a human, what does a human need, what is the purpose of our lives, what is morality and so on. We do really have great opportunities to get really good instrumental knowledge, even most of the higher eduaction institutions offer programmes, that are only about learning a profession. I do really doubt, if instrumental knowledge and knowledge of a profession is everything that a young person needs — one must have its own view on world, understand at least basic political and anthropological theories, have some values formed, have an ability to think independently. Only in that way a responsible and conscious personality could be formed. We do not need working biorobots. In this post-modern and really diverse world our future generation will face more and more ethical and political problems (one of them we are facing now — e. g. the question of further EU integration) — that is inevitable. And those now young people will have to make those hard decisions. And those decisions cannot be made without any philosophical understanding about the world and without having any values. And also, it is way nore likely that a democratic system will function successfully, if the society wil consist of people, that are conscious and have the ability to think deeply.

So, I advise national authorities of EU member states to put more emphasis on that. Since higher education programmes are really diverse, I would offer you to teach more philosophy, litearture and religion ant high schools. Only in that way this kind of knowledge would be available for all young people, no matter of what they choose to do after school. Now, this kind of really important knowledge is available only for those, who study social sciences at universities. Those, who choose to work, study a profession or study STEM or natural sciences, are, sadly, in this case unlucky. It must be available for all of the students. So, contrary to mainstream opinion, I offer to emphasize on teaching therorethical subjects, but not so-called “useful skills” at schools. And also, taking that really seriously. Learning of those “skills” is already really accessible — that could be done after school or, even, not in a formal way.

Let’s make the young generation of Europe have strong values and understanding of the world! That is the main point! In that way, Europe will be strong and democratic!
Emanuele Pio
17 January 2021
The requirements to work are changing faster and faster. I think we are moving towards an increasingly electronic and computer world. these two subjects are in close collaboration, so I believe that first of all schools should teach at least the basics of computer science or electronics. as far as science is concerned, it is also important to study the practical field of chemistry and biology, and not just theory. it would be better if the laboratories in many institutes were increased. Keeping the tradition is always important, so it's okay to deepen the mother tongue but it's also better not to focus only on this. the school needs to change as fast as the requirements to work. The school needs not to remain attached to the roots to open even more minds and entice many children to study for a better future
11 December 2020
If I were an MEP, I would give more working offers, because in this time many young people lose their jobs because of collective redundancies. I would give more job opportunities in several sectors. Especially in those which interest young people, like informatic, applied mathematics and many others. I would financially support young generation if their lose their jobs for a certain period. In this way, I would secure future jobs and give young people a chance to be employed.
05 July 2020
In my opinion the pandemic caused a lot of mental stress for people and it showed, that although technology is develop amazingly, mind wise we have to do a lot of work. This times have shown the importance of mental health (just have a look at the fighting/divorcing number of couples). What we need is education in mental health, thats as important as learning how to write at school. It is crucial for a good future for everyone. So in my view there should be meditation class starting at elementary school, high school, university and even at work.
25 June 2020
I am a high school student in Austria and I would like to share my own experience:
Last summer, I worked in a local brick-factory in the office. One day my boss wanted me to write a business letter for the mayor of the village. Not that I was only unsure on how to use business language, I also had no idea on how to format the letter.

I think in order to be a citizen that has his/her own opinions, you have to have a certain basic knowledge. For example about important events of history or about important literary works as their effects and ideas relate to the life we live today.

But in my opinion, too less students have a basic knowledge about finances and economics.
In order to be prepared in our future there has to be an understanding for European citizens of the working life. This is why I think that students of the member states of Europe should include lifelike economic topics in already existing subjects as geography – this means that not only schools that are focused on economics but all students in Europe understand economics of Europe.
10 June 2020
I feel that today's educational systems still focus too much on the formal setting, by which I mean the schools and universities. A lot of a persons's development is done outside of those walls and so we can't ignore it, to the contrary.
Many youth organisations are actively involved in teaching skills and competences that are necessary in a professional career (I'm thinking about teamwork, project management, communication,...), but this part of a persons development is usually ignored when talking about 'the educational system'. I think that the work done by youth organisations in developing a persons 'soft skills' should be better recognised by governments, as they play an essential role in complementing the knowledge that is gained in a more formal setting. Recognition of the value of skills obtained this way could come in many ways: a government could hand out certificates for certain skills, more funding could go to youth organisations that support the development of these skills...
10 June 2020
This is about Climate crisis education.

Let's try to be as analytical as possible here:
* There is a scientific consensus on the inevitability of man made climate and environmental change in an unprecedented scale that will negatively affect in general the conditions of life on earth for humans. There is a scientific consensus, slowly infusing in the political sphere that this is the single most pressing challenge ever face by humankind.
* At the political level far too little action is take at the political level at the moment to prevent, mitigate, and adapt to the upcoming changes. (current emission levels, scenarios with the current political promises are all saying the same thing.)
* At the individual level, citizens have far too little knowledge about the crisis and, for the moment, a far too detached attitude towards the crisis. (people in developed countries still hardly feel its effects, are not changing their consumption behavior, etc.
* Thus, we are entering in an unwanted, worldwide experiment about the future of humanity that is comprehensive and holistic (how do we produce energy, how do we consume, how do we behave, what do we eat, what institutional and democratic arrangements we need for this new situation at the local, national, and international level => these questions means that pretty much all knowledge disciplines are needed, in an interconnected way to understand and address the problem. Psychology, sociology, political science, earth and live science.)
* And yet, there are very few ways to teach it because of its unprecedented nature. We have nothing to look back to that is comparable in the history of humankind.

* Thus, we urgently need a serious reflection on how we can massively teach the climate crisis to all: what are the knowledge/skills/attitude every single young person/citizen should possess, what tools, who is in charge of it, how do we finance it, how can this knowledge be used to solve the crisis?
27 May 2020
Hi everyone, education is a very important topic. School is one of the most important milestones of our life and it is also important that our education systems prepare youths for the jobs of the future.

A deep evaluation of every national systems is necessary to discover the best and the worst cases. This analysis allows creating a European education system based on the best criteria. A European education system can contribute to give the same level of education to all European citizens, which is very important because it can ensure the same background and the same level of knowledge to all youths starting their careers in the working system.

About the future, it's very important that school teaches the skills for the future jobs...for example technology, data analysis, privacy, environment... A good suggestion would be to:
- introduce new trainings;
- limit the number of students in courses that register high level of unemployment;
- increase the practice.

Lieke van Gijzel
20 May 2020
Due to the amount of stress and working environment of PhD students, I have noticed that there teaching abilities are not as well as they should be. Sometimes a student has to give a class they themself had just finished a few months ago. Additionally, they might not get the support they require to give such a class. A PhD student will most likely try and give the class since most of them are in an environment were they do not feel empowered enough to speak up. Offcourse this might not be the case in all european countries, however, this is present in more countries then we know. If we trust these students to provide classes/ guided homework hours/ guide students or similar activities we should give them the training they require. The change of environment might be necessary since some countries contain such a hierarchy, that the students might not feel free to speak up about there lack in education and thus the lack in education they can provide.

I mainly believe this is something the european union should get involved with because some of the countries in which these problems are most pressing might not realise it. They might have been treated the same way and thus will not see a problem with this way of teaching. Therefore, trying national awareness might not lead to any changes. If the european union can interact, providing more information about safe work environments, making it easier for PhD students to report miss conduct and maybe change the workload so they have time to educate themselves in educating others. It might improve the working conditions of a PhD student and can improve the general education provided in Europe !
13 April 2020
In my primary school we learned in a method called "Amaraberri metodoa", and I think education should apply it in more centers. I remember that everyone litterally wanted to go to school, becausr it was like a game. The thing is that we had one hour a week per subject called "intentsiboa" (intensive) where we learned the basics we had to know in that subject. All the rest of the things adapted to each oned learning speed. The rest of the days we divided the class in 4-5 groups and each of them was in a different "txoko" (like different sections), and there each one made projects, execises... at its speed. For example, in maths we learned all the stuff such as vectors, geometey basics... in the intensive, and the rest of the days you were in a txoko (we changed each group's txoko every half a month) , in one of then you made math problems, in other you made geometry, in other you made logic exeecises... Another example, in Spanish, we learned the grammas in the intentsibi and in one txoko you watched documentaties and made a project about it, or you had to write the script of a theatre, or you prepared a talk on a topic, or create a magazine... Then, every 15 linutes we spent 2 to 3 classes actually showing the class our work in that txoko
13 April 2020
The education system should give less importance to the knowledge itself, basically memorizing facts, and focus more on actually knowing how to manage all the available information
Harun Tarhan
13 April 2020
First of all, many countries closed the borders
It was leading to many students got shocked.
So I think we need to creating new corporations for emergency situation. As you know many students lack of opportunities to long term stay other countries.
Secondly, we need to new a huge data for online courses. Unfortunately, many countries and also many students have no internet or equipments( computer, headphone).
On the other side, we must have new regulations about education it means not nationwide. It must be integration international area.
Probably we will start learn and teach methods with technology. But the problem here lectures also don't know how to use to social platform and however, many countries or companies are saving our basic information that's not according to EU standart and also universal declaration of human rights. Therefore we need to create new cooperation between countries to fix or deal with that.
Finally, the education must be equality for disadvantages groups and migrants, refugees
Education shouldn't be key for discrimination.
It is the best way to for peacefully society.
In this case, also we have to care about environment before use technology
Education can be key awareness of nature.
So In my opinion, we have to build new education in the nature for the future.

13 April 2020
I believe that if we want to prepare students for adult life, the educational system can’t be solely focused on memorising concepts and spitting them out on an exam, like it is in Spain.
Students need to be exposed to situations that come out of the ordinary so they can learn how to adapt to anything, which would be a very useful tool for the future and would help boost creativity. Teamwork and leadership should also be taught, because learning how to work as a team is something completely necessary for the future.
Also, school should be made more enjoyable, because the way it is right now it only makes students hate learning, which isn’t okay. Introducing school sports, art, extracurricular activities and school spirit would be a great way to improve it!
Anna Benisova
21 January 2020
I think, that's necessary to have in the high school the subjects such as communication (how to present, how to speak in formal language, how to be not afraid of speaking in the groups), puplic policy (in this lessons could the students get to know about Erasmus +, their right, how to be active in their city and town.) an last one: finance (how to invest money, how the banks work and so on). These subjects we don't have and I really miss them.
Melaku Bayih
10 December 2019
I am planning to have a common program for common understand and benefit of youths in both EU and AU.
06 December 2019
In order to provide a European Culture and make the citizens feel like they are part of the European Union as well as they are part of their own countries, all countries in the EU should introduce a new two-year subject based on European history with a focus on the formation and evolution of the EU in the second year.
This subject should aim to provide a European identity as well as create more active citizens in the community who will be able to help create a future for Europe.
10 October 2019
In my country, I would like to have school complexes. In these schools there would be a music school, a sports school and an art school.This is necessary, because a lot of students live far away from school and they have to wait multiple hours for their practices, so for them it's harder to combine school with their hobbies.
10 October 2019
These days everything is modernized and developed and I want the same to happen with education.When the 7th grade starts it would be required for students to study all the exam subjects and foreign languages, but all the other subjects student would choose by himself.This would motivate students to come to school and have a better vibe in school, because they would learn what they want to learn.

10 October 2019
Modern education is designed for the average person. That means today's education system is perfectly designed for no one, because nobody is an average person. I feel like schools should give more homework that's associated with their future career and less homework in subjects that don't matter. Another thing that I personally think would make schools better, is preparing students for the future; what I mean by that is teaching them how to apply for a job or do taxes.
10 October 2019
Exams need to change completely.
Many argue that exams are now designed in such a way, that students cram their materials, and forget the next day. Exams might not validly measure what students are capable of when they enter their first job. The factual knowledge of a student should be measured during their learning process, the application of their knowledge is best tested when they work on projects in the field.
Aleksis Jočs
10 October 2019
Adding a subject that teaches traffic laws starting with bicycles, then at a later age mopeds, and finally cars.
Students have driven to and from school for a very long time now, adding these subjects into the school system will only increase the rate at which people get a drivers licence for their selected vehicle as it would include practical experience from driving/cycling to and from school.
Aleksis Jočs
10 October 2019
Instead of teaching students all the general information about a certain subject, teach how and where it can be useful in everyday life situations.
More interest and necessity to learn the subject.
Aleksis Jočs
10 October 2019
Introducing a system where students can choose the subjects that they enjoy and are keen on studying further without the added stress of side subjects that they do not enjoy learning could be a way that opens up a new perspective on studying, as it wouldnt make students lose focus on things they are actually good at.

09 October 2019
You have to be prudent first of all. Being prudent means that you have also the attitude towards things, your own opinion, and values.
09 October 2019
Making decisions and intelligence. Not every countries right decision in their situation can also be the right decision for your country. It depends on how the education system is set up and school climate in your country.