Education matters

Equal opportunities for suitable education and training after the completion of compulsory education is the cornerstone of each society. Education promotes more active participation in Icelandic society and increases people’s skills in the labour market. Education also results in increased value creation for the society as a whole and increased income for the government and the country’s entire populace.

BSRB thus places great importance on equal rights to education irrespective of circumstances, age and residency. The federation discourages that tuition fees, of any kind whatsoever, be levied in public educational institutions.

Altered labour market, education and competence

It is clear that in the coming years and decades, there will be significant changes to the labour market relating to technological changes of the fourth industrial revolution, the development of artificial intelligence, environmental changes, altered consumer behaviour, increased number of the elderly and other changes in society. Policy formulation and a clear view on the interaction between the labour market and education is therefore increasingly important. BSRB and its member associations place great importance on active participation in discussions, decision making and policy formulation in those areas relating to education and training in the country, both in the formal and informal education system.

The Icelandic Parliament has passed a parliamentary resolution on educational policy to 2030 and is working towards an action plan on how the plan will be implemented. On adoption, BSRB wants to place increased emphasis on life-long learning and continuing education, not least in light of the foreseeable changes to people’s working environment in the coming years.

The State and municipalities carry out important public services. BSRB calls on all public workplaces to establish a career development policy and follow up on such policy with an active career development plan to train its employees. Enhanced skills and increased knowledge of employees forms the basis of public services of higher quality for the benefit of all. Adoption of new technology is not realised without focused training of employees. Education that enhances skills must be part of the workplace [1]culture of the future, and the employer’s responsibility for long-life learning of employees must be implemented into law and collective wage agreements.

BSRB demands that vocational university studies become a special education level. The work on its structure must continue so that the program becomes a normal part of the public education system and is funded by the government. Care must also be taken to ensure that those who have completed on-the-job training or vocational studies at the third level have secure access to university study.

The fifth pillar

Continuing education is the fifth pillar of the education system and is particularly important to people with little formal education to receive further learning opportunities. It is necessary that the fund system of the continuing education system is dynamic and accessible and that funding to the informal education system is sufficient to support the progressive work of education centres, centres for life-long learning and the Education and Training Service Centre.

The assessment of financial needs and funding must take into account that the projects of the continuing education system are becoming more complicated and diverse, e.g. due to the increase in the number of foreign workers in the Icelandic labour market. It is thus, in this case, not enough to look only to the number of individuals. BSRB is of the opinion that it is important that the continuing education system is efficient and accessible to all those who need such a system and want to acquire long-life learning and continuing education within the system. BSRB is willing to take part in the work of reviewing it.

BSRB emphasises that revision of the Adult Education Act be completed in close consultation with the members of the employment sector.

BSRB also strictly emphasises that both the State and municipalities are involved in the development and operations of education centres in the fields of continuing education and life-long learning, that have the role of analysing and designing educational approaches for the members of BSRB member associations, free of charge.

BSRB is of the opinion that it is necessary to strengthen the position of vocational study and on-the-job training alongside traditional academic studies. It is important to ensure that the education system, institutions and companies can receive students who apply for such studies.

It is vital to strengthen the role of the occupational advisory boards that address the jobs carried out by the members of the BSRB member associations and to ensure that the associations have working conditions that allow them to exercise their functions with dedication. It is also important to strengthen the Vocational Training Fund and to simplify the use of the fund for employers so that it is optimised by the members of BSRB member associations.

Social wealth

BSRB focuses on the importance of education and endeavours to ensure that Boards of the member associations, employees and those who have put themselves forward for social activities receive the necessary training and education.

BSRB supports the member associations in the important work of increasing and improving the knowledge of its members, in co-operation with employers. BSRB wants to place particular importance on increasing technical knowledge and computer literacy in accordance with the wishes of the members and the needs of the labour market.

BSRB emphasises that members of the member associations can develop their professional competence and educate themselves so that they become sought after in the labour market throughout their careers. It is important to ensure that members have the opportunity to seek vocational education and life-long learning alongside their jobs, without wage reduction. BSRB wants to endeavour to ensure that study leave becomes a natural right of the members of BSRB member associations. Such right must be ensured by collective wage agreements but co-ordinated between member associations.

BSRB emphasises that foreign workers are offered quality teaching and training in Icelandic, free of charge, that they are given the opportunity to study Icelandic during working hours {MQ}and that they receive training in Icelandic in the workplace, without wage reduction.

BSRB wants to ensure equal access to real skills assessment and education and career counselling with enhanced introduction and information supply for the members of the member associations. Particular attention must be paid to those who have the least formal education.

Vocational education and life-long learning is a priority issue for BSRB; the future labour market calls for new skills, new ideas and a growth mindset. It is vital that the members of the employment sector and the members of labour market associations join together to ensure that success is achieved.

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