The European Commission adopted a series of economic policy recommendations to individual member states today (2 June) to strengthen the economic recovery.
The recommendations included the need “to preserve growth-enhancing expenditure in education, research and innovation” and to “push for further reforms in … R&D systems”, amongst others, to make economies more competitive.
The European Commission (EC) recommendations are based on detailed analyses of each country’s situation and provide guidance on how to boost growth, increase competitiveness and create jobs in 2014-2015.
Croatia seems to have gotten off lightly with regards to its struggling R&D system, but its poorly performing education system has been highlighted as not fit for purpose and in need of change.
Youth unemployment, it says, “increased drastically and reached almost 50% in 2013, while the proportion of young people not in education, employment or training keeps increasing”.
This includes university educated people. The EC says that Croatia’s “employment rates among recent graduates are significantly lower than in the rest of the EU.”
“Croatia also faces serious challenges in education as regards labour-market relevance and quality of provision across all educational sectors,” the EC says.
“Work-based learning and career guidance across secondary and tertiary education are lacking while employers’ engagement with vocational education and training, and secondary and tertiary education is low.”
But there is some hope with regards to the ongoing, if slow, reforms.
“The outdated vocational education and training system is undergoing a reform in the form of piloting new school curricula,” the EC says. “The implementation of the Croatian Qualifications Framework and the Strategy on Education, Science and Technology is pending but should improve educational outcomes and align them with labour market needs.”
The recommendations for 2014-2015 say Croatia should: “Implement measures to improve the labour market relevance and quality of education outcomes by modernising the qualification systems, by putting in place quality assurance mechanisms and by improving school to-work transitions, notably through strengthening vocational education and work-based learning.”
The country-specific recommendations will be discussed by EU leaders and EU ministers this month before being formally adopted by the EU’s Council of Finance Ministers on 8 July. It is then up to member states to implement the recommendations by taking them up when drafting their national budgets and other relevant policies for 2015.