Commission adopts initiative to boost apprenticeships in Europe

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Brussels, 5 October 2017

Commission adopts initiative to boost apprenticeships in Europe

Today the European Commission has adopted a proposal for a European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships. This initiative is part of the New Skills Agenda for Europe, launched in June 2016. It also ties in with the European Pillar of Social Rights, which foresees a right to quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning. The Commission has identified 14 key criteria that Member States and stakeholders should use to develop quality and effective apprenticeships. This initiative will help increase the employability and personal development of apprentices and contribute towards a highly skilled and qualified workforce responsive to labour market needs.

Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, Valdis Dombrovskis: "Taking on an apprenticeship is often the necessary stepping stone for a young person to be propelled into his or her career. Today we come with proposals to further improve this valuable training experience, so it benefits both employers and learners. While respecting the diversity of education and training systems in Member States, our ultimate goal is to facilitate the integration of young people in the labour market."

Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen said: "By providing direct links between theory and practice, between education and the labour market, quality and effective apprenticeships are concrete ways to help young people to enter the world of work and stand strong in life, whilst strengthening Europe's human capital. This is key to boosting the competitiveness of our societies and economies."

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "We want to make sure that young people learn the skills they need for work. Apprenticeships are the 'Gold Standard' in vocational education and training. Two out of three apprentices move straight into jobs after finishing their education. With today's new framework, we define what makes apprenticeships shine. Once adopted, the framework will ensure that both learners and employers benefit from quality apprenticeships."

To assess the quality and effectiveness of an apprenticeship, the proposed Framework proposes seven criteria for learning and working conditions:

(1) Written contract; (2) Learning outcomes; (3) Pedagogical support; (4) Workplace component; (5) Pay and/or compensation; (6) Social protection; (7) Work, health and safety conditions.

The Framework also proposes seven criteria for framework conditions:

(8) Regulatory framework; (9) Involvement of social partners; (10) Support for companies; (11) Flexible pathways and mobility; (12) Career guidance and awareness raising; (13) Transparency; (14) Quality assurance and graduate tracking.

The Commission supports the implementation of these criteria through relevant EU funding. The European Social Fund alone contributes up to 27 billion euros to education and training, and the EU supports apprenticeships also through various other instruments. In addition, the European Alliance for Apprenticeships has so far mobilised over 750,000 places for young people. At least 390,000 apprenticeships have already been offered under the Youth Guarantee. Erasmus+ supports mobility for apprentices, including a new ErasmusPro initiative aimed at supporting 50,000 placements of vocational learners in companies abroad for the period 2018-2020. As efforts are bearing fruit to expand the number of apprenticeships, it is vital to know what the criteria for success are. This is what the new Framework provides.

Background

Apprenticeships, a combination of learning in school and training in a workplace, ease the transition of young people from education and training into work. Today, there are around 3.7 million apprenticeship students in Europe.

Some Member States have very long and effective traditions regarding apprenticeships whilst others are in the process of establishing or strengthening their apprenticeship systems.

Overall, 60-70% of apprentices move into a job directly following their apprenticeship, and in some cases this increases to 90%.

The proposal for a European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships contributes to the EU's priority on jobs, growth and investment. It is part of the New Skills Agenda for Europe and its ambition to improve the quality and relevance of skills formation. One of the priorities is to make vocational education and training a genuine first choice for more people.

This proposal comes in the political context of the Rome Declaration of 25 March 2017, where European leaders pledged to work towards a “Union where young people receive the best education and training and can study and find jobs across the continent”.

The initiative also contributes to the realisation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which states as a first principle that everyone has the right to quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning.

The proposed initiative is also a follow-up to the 2016 Communication on Investing in Europe's Youth, in which the Commission announced its intention to propose such a Framework for Apprenticeships. It builds on important contributions from the European Social Partners.

This initiative complements Commission's initiates to strengthen Vocational Education and Training (VET), namely the existing Quality Framework for Traineeships.

Next steps

The proposal will be discussed by Member States with a view to it being adopted by the Council. The Commission is already preparing a new set of support services to help Member States and stakeholders implement this Framework through knowledge sharing, networking and peer-learning activities.

This initiative will also be promoted through the European Alliance for Apprenticeships and awareness raising campaigns such as the European Vocational Skills Week, which is taking place for the second year and will be organised from 20 to 24 November 2017.

IP/17/3585

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