Welcoming the participants to ETUCE's first Special Conference on 26-27 November 2014 in Vienna on The Future of the Teaching Profession, the ETUCE President Christine Blower reflected on what education and teachers' work will be like in future taking reference in today's world that is already constantly online. EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen outlined the potential consequences when children fall through the cracks of society because of insufficient education and touched on the challenges confronting quality education, such as austerity measures, privatisation and de-professionalisation. Framing the conference theme, the European Director Martin Rømer highlighted the challenges of rapid developments in ICT, the decreasing investment in education and with a view to initiate the discussions, provocatively questioned the participants whether teacher unions can match governments and private providers in the discussions on innovation in education and whether teacher unions will in future be an attractive partner for debate on this topic.

Early Leaving from Education and Training (ELET) has a negative impact on young peoples' opportunities in the labour market and therefore has high costs for the individual as well as for society and the economy. Completing education, on the other hand, can lead to a series of better employment opportunities and health related outcomes for the individual. The Highlights from the last Eurydice study: Tackling early leaving from Education and Training in Europe are the following ones:

The recommendation was originally adopted in 1962 and was revised in 1974 and 2001. The aim of the current revision is to reflect new trends and issues in the field, considering demographic changes, youth unemployment and growing inequality as well as the central role of "skills for work and life" in the process of defining global priorities for education beyond 2015. Following a limited consultation earlier this year, to which EI's Task Force on Vocational Education and Training contributed, a first draft of the Revised Recommendation has now been sent to Member States. The revision is, in fact, a complete rewrite of the recommendation. The new draft is significantly shorter than the recommendation approved in 2001.

The Annual Growth Survey 2015, published on 28 November, outlines the main priorities of the new European Commission's jobs and growth agenda. The Annual Growth Survey is a communication from the European Commission to the member states which kicks off the annual cycle of economic governance, the European Semester, and sets priorities for education and training. The European Commission acknowledges that the recovery of the European economy still lags behind, and the small progresses foreseen soon vanished in the second half of 2014. As a way out of the crisis, the 2015 Annual Growth Survey of the European Commission proposes to follow an integrated approach to economic and social policy for 2015 built on three main pillars: boost investments, accelerate structural reforms and pursue fiscal stability.

Despite the wide consensus on the fact that quality education is a key element to exit the economic and social crisis, to reduce social inequalities, to increase social well-being and democratic participation in society, education systems in many European countries are deteriorating. ETUCE looked in-depth into the reality of five countries: Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Ireland, which have experienced very big cut backs in education. The ETUCE documentary 'When Europe forgot its homework: education in crisis' shows that cuts and downturns in the education systems have affected everyday people  – teachers, students, parents, and societies – and made the prospects and opportunities for young people more unclear, jeopardizing the future of the younger generations. It also shows how teacher trade unions have reacted to the economic crisis, delivering alternative answers to face the effects of austerity.

From 26 to 27 November 2014, more than 200 teacher union representatives from all over Europe convene in Vienna for ETUCE's first mid-term conference under the new structure. The Future of the Teaching Profession, which is the Leitmotif of the event and of the main conference resolution, promises interesting discussions. The debate is prompted and inspired by several honoured guest speakers, among them, Mr. Xavier Prats-Monné, Director General, DG EAC, Prof. Emeritus John MacBeath from Cambridge University, Dr. Riina Vuorikari, from the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and Prof. Susan Lee Robertson from Bristol University.