Responding to the proposal presented by the Commission on the so-called “New Skills Agenda for Europe”, GUE/NGL MEP Lynn Boylan highlighted the contradictions inherent in the proposal saying that the “many positives to the New Skills Agenda for Europe have been undone by its more sinister and less spoken about elements.”

Boylan accused the Commission of peddling to a neo-liberal agenda: “The EU institutions are using the New Skills Agenda to do the bidding of private interests by creating insecurity in the labour market while calling it 'flexibility' and compromising education systems with demands of private industry interests.”

The Irish MEP acknowledged the need for upskilling and adjustments of workers' skills in line with the development and emergence of new technologies but proposed a more humane approach: “I firmly believe that the best way to help people to adapt to whatever circumstances they may face is to educate them in a holistic manner so they become critical, confident and independent.”

“This,” she added, “not only benefits the economy, but it also benefits society as a whole.”

GUE/NGL MEP João Pimenta went further in his criticism of the Commission accusing it of adding spin to the proposals: “Under the cover of existing high unemployment in the EU, the Commission’s target for 2020 assumes that at least 25 percent of the active population will remain unemployed.”

“Under the cover of continued lifelong education, the Commission follows a logic of subordination of education and training, not to the structural interests of a country but for the benefit of the so-called job market and the interests of big economic groups, making education elitist, fomenting inequality and social discrimination.”

Pimenta denounced the Commission’s buzzword – “Flexicurity” – as an excuse for deregulation of the labour market and an attack on worker’s rights declaring that “the EU wants to offer its workers more impoverishment and exploitation”.

GUE/NGL MEP Kostadinka Kuneva echoed the concerns of fellow colleagues: “If reaching 75 percent of employment is truly a target for the Europe 2020 Strategy then the training and skill policies and programmes – that have already failed – will not solve the unemployment crisis.”

“Submissively adapting education to the labour market, commercialising it and degrading classical studies bears no relation with the actual role of education which is to shape free personalities,” concluded the Greek MEP.

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