Commission announces 2017 VET week – adopts initiative to boost apprenticeships in Europe
Following the success of the first European Vocational Skills Week, the second edition will take place from 20 to 24 November. This is a European Commission initiative aimed at making vocational education and training (VET) for quality skills and jobs more attractive. It includes events in participating European countries, including Malta. Stakeholders taking part in the Week have the chance to share examples of excellence in VET.
Meantime, 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 to 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 said: “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 practise, 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, while 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 raising awareness; (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 to education and training, and the EU also supports apprenticeships 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.