Anton Leppik, ITUC-PERC Adviser, was contributing to a panel discussion on Education and decent jobs on behalf of labour. During the panel the attention was pointed to the fact that it was not enough to discuss education when speaking about decent work achievement for young people and there was a need to influence the demand side also, as in this region the decent working places were scarce / shrinking.
At the heart of development and economic policies should be the reduction of inequalities, and wealth redistribution mechanisms. The income inequalities are extreme in the region (e.g. in Russia 100 people own 33% of national wealth). The present austerity measures are contributing to growth of inequalities. In Europe the youth is the best educated generation, but the unemployment is high with horrific figures in Spain and Greece and young people who are employed, often are trapped in precariosity and informality.
The decent work agenda should be a specific sustainable development goal (SDG) and that it exactly represents the mechanism to reduce inequalities. It calls for employment creation – but not any jobs, but jobs with fair wages and conditions, for implementation of rights at work, what is in itself mechanism to reduce inequalities, social protection and social protection floors for everyone and social dialog.
The audience was referred to the need of ratification and implementation of the ILO conventions, the need to expand the labour legislation coverage to new sectors (domestic, e.g.), need to enforce minimal wage and to promote collective bargaining.
Social partners need freedom and capacities to influence the policies, including education and skills building, and that in this region they often lack that. Moreover, there are open attacks on collective bargaining systems as in Greece and Romania.
Investments in education were urged – in facilities, teachers, working conditions etc. All children must complete secondary education (and that the state needs to provide resources and incentives for marginalized groups). And also that there should be equal access to post-secondary education.
Active labour market policies and involvement of social partners in their development are necessary. Furthermore, the life-long learning and the need for continuous training and retraining – of teachers, but also of other workers so that they have skills to be active on the labour market, particularly in the situation of transition from old to new – green – industries - is vital for Europe.
On role of social partners in education process, the PERC message highlighted 1) necessity to give pupils not only skills and entrepreneurship spirit, but knowledge about their rights at work and that teachers and unions could be the key for that, 2) that social partners could assist education institutions in making curriculum and training processes closely linked with labour market analysis and prognosis, 3) social partners can agree upon efficient quality apprenticeship schemes. A particular example of quality apprenticeships position agreed by L20 and B20 was used.
The labour participants were actively contributing to the civil society discussions, on education and decent work and on health and social protection.