Apprenticeships can be the best way for young people to find a job and for employers to find skilled recruits.
The European Alliance for Apprenticeships presents stories from both apprentices and employers on how this experience is important for the development of skills, careers and businesses. Read also testimonials by Leonardo da Vinci participants.
In Leipzig, 25 small and medium-sized companies have come together to provide apprenticeship places for young Spaniards. The effort is coordinated by the local Chamber of Crafts and a local training provider.
Elektro-Borger is a small electrical company in Leipzig with 23 employees (of it 3 apprentices). The company has a long apprenticeship tradition, but has found it increasingly difficult to find highly committed and motivated young apprentices. The company is therefore trying out something new by offering two new apprenticeships to young Spaniards under the Mobi-Pro EU programme.
"We are doing this because we believe we will find talented young people. We hope we can provide an important learning experience for them, and we also believe they will be of high value to us as a company" says Hans Jürgen Borger, who owns the company.
At a time when Spain is facing high levels of youth unemployment, such apprenticeship opportunities are highly welcomed. Elektro-Borger is one of 25 companies cooperating with the local Chamber of Crafts [383 KB] and a local training provider to offer a total of 30 new apprenticeship placements for young Spaniards.
The combination of theoretical learning and practical experience is the most rewarding aspect of being an apprentice, and it increases ones chances of finding a job, according to Anne Kratz (21) from Germany.
As part of her studies to become an industrial management assistant, Anne Kratz is a commercial apprentice with Merck, a pharmaceutical, chemical and life science company. She started the apprenticeship after her final secondary school examination (the German Abitur).
Vocational education and training (VET) with work-based learning requires good cooperation between VET schools and employers in order to ensure the right balance between theoretical and practical learning. "One of the best aspects of being an apprentice is the connection of the theory you learn in school with the practical experience from working in a company", says Anne.
As an apprentice Anne Kratz gets experience within marketing & recruiting, disposition & logistics and customer service. With the support of the EU's Leonardo da Vinci scheme, part of her apprenticeship period is spent in Amsterdam, in addition to the headquarter in Darmstadt near Frankfurt am Main.
Anne believes that being an apprentice increases her chances of finding a job. "I think an apprenticeship experience is highly valued whether it is in a small or a large company", she says.
As an apprentice, Jack Malinge shared his time between learning in school and in-company training. This way he got important experience that later led to a number of interesting jobs.
After primary high school Jack Malinge was determined to become a mason, and he therefore applied for a vocational school in Nantes. For two years he alternated between two weeks in school and six weeks in a company. "Both the learning in school and the training in the work place are very important to become a good mason" says Jack.
Jack later worked for several companies doing everything from laying concrete and bricks to stone masonry and restoring historic monuments. The experience as an apprentice made it easier for him to find a job afterwards, but it also made it easier to integrate into the different companies.
Jack represented France at WorldSkills competition in Calgary in 2009, and he was later offered to become a trainer for apprentices. "For two years I taught apprentices, and this was a very good learning experience also for me. The important thing was to make sure the apprentices developed the right skills for later success" says Jack.
The apprenticeship as a welder has opened a number of opportunities for Marine Brigeon. Today, she works on nuclear sub-marine hulls.
Marine Bregeon wished to follow in her father's professional footsteps as a welder. She took up a one year education, including training periods in the family company. This apprenticeship gave her the opportunity to learn the key welding techniques. "Welding competence is very important for many companies, and being an apprentice is the way to get started" Marine says.
She went on to become trainer herself at the 'Institut de Soudure de Villepinte', before she started working for the DCNS Group in Cherbourg. There she is part of a team working on nuclear sub-marine hulls. "I am really passionate about being a welder. It's an important occupation" says Marine.