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Innovation and creativity in education – the key factor for Europe’s future competitiveness

"I hope that we have finally become aware that investment in education, knowledge and young people is the most profitable investment for the future," the current President of the Education, Youth and Culture Council, Slovenian Minister of Education and Sport, Dr Milan Zver, said today. Speaking on the fringe of the EYC Council meeting, he added that "the creative and innovative potential of European citizens represents the key pillar on which not only the future European economic prosperity, but also its cultural development, will be based." At the session today, the ministers adopted Council conclusions on promoting innovation and creativity through education and training. With these conclusions, the Slovenian Presidency has successfully fulfilled the main priority in this area and has brought another successful outcome to set alongside today's adoption of the Decision designating 2009 the European Year of Creativity and Innovation. The Decision now needs only to be adopted by the European Parliament.

In the conclusions, the ministers of education and training stressed that a creative economy requires talented staff. It is thus of significant importance that Europe continues to create, educate, attract and retain talented people. In this context, the President of the Council, Slovenian Minister Dr Zver, said: "I am convinced that education plays a key role in discovering and encouraging innovation and creativity; we should, therefore, start to educate children at an early age and continue at all levels of lifelong learning."

At the morning session, devoted to education and training, the ministers adopted conclusions on adult learning, which are a response to two challenges of modern society: the ageing of the active population and the ever increasing competitiveness of the global economy. At the session, the President of the EYC Council said that rapid changes in professional and social life as well as current demographic trends were already leading to a lack of knowledge and greater and greater demands in terms of constant training and further education. Several Member States find it increasingly difficult to face the challenges posed by rapid changes in technology and the demand for the latest knowledge. They rely in particular on a new workforce and do not invest in developing the knowledge of people who are already employed. The adopted conclusions thus pay particular attention to measures encouraging constant development of knowledge and further education for adults. It is very important that adults undergo continuous education and are capable of facing changes and adapting to them. "Regardless of whether adults think they need additional knowledge or re-qualification, they must be given access to education in the best and simplest possible way," said the President of the Council, Dr Zver, during the meeting.

In the afternoon session of the Council meeting, devoted to youth policy, the ministers adopted a Resolution on young people with fewer opportunities. This resolution highlights the serious conditions which young people with fewer opportunities have to face in many European countries. The resolution brings forward the key importance of their active participation in employment, education and society to provide general social cohesion. On the fringe of the Council meeting, the president of the EYC Council, Slovenian Minister, Dr Milan Zver, discussed the issue of young people with fewer opportunities also with youth representatives, who welcomed the resolution and the efforts made by the Slovenian Presidency placing young people with fewer opportunities in the foreground of its priority tasks.

At the end of the meeting, Minister Zver summarised the outcomes of the Slovenian Presidency, which succeeded in pointing out the key role of education in implementing the Lisbon Strategy objectives. "We have fulfilled the main priorities in the area of education as well as youth policy," stressed the President of the EYC Council, Dr Milan Zver, adding, "we therefore expect that the wide support for education and for the broader participation of young people with fewer opportunities will also be reflected in future investments, and that creativity and innovation in new visions will be among the central themes of our joint strategic plan."


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Date: 23.05.2008