The European Alliance for Apprenticeships is launched today by Commissioners Androulla Vassiliou (Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth) and László Andor (Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion) at the 2013 WorldSkills competition in Leipzig, Germany.
The Alliance will help to fight youth unemployment by improving the quality and supply of apprenticeships across the EU through a broad partnership of key employment and education stakeholders. It also seeks to change attitudes to apprenticeships. It will in particular identify the most successful apprenticeship schemes in the EU and apply appropriate solutions in each Member State.
The Alliance is supported by the first-ever joint Declaration by the European Commission, the Presidency of the EU's Council of Ministers and European level trade union and employer organisations (the European Trade Union Confederation - ETUC, BusinessEurope, the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public services - CEEP and the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises - UEAPME). The Alliance promotes measures which will be supported by the European Social Fund, the Youth Employment Initiative and Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, training and youth.
"We call on all stakeholders to join the European Alliance for Apprenticeships and contribute to more and better apprenticeships in Europe," said the Commissioners in a joint statement. "Apprenticeships can play a crucial role in tackling youth unemployment by giving young people the skills and experience sought by employers."
Countries with strong vocational education and training (VET) systems, such as Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands and Austria, tend to have less youth unemployment. The Commission confirms this analysis in the latest European Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review which indicates that apprenticeships and traineeships are often a stepping stone to a permanent job (see IP/13/601). This is why apprenticeships are a key element of the Youth Guarantee, proposed by the Commission as part of the Youth Employment Package in December 2012 (see IP/12/1311 and MEMO/12/938) and adopted by the Council in April 2013.
"We need to pull together and act now to ensure that our young people get the skills they need to succeed in their personal and professional lives," said Commissioner Vassiliou. "Given the unacceptable levels of youth unemployment there is an urgent need for those responsible for education and employment to work together to facilitate the transition of young Europeans from school to the world of work", added Commissioner Andor.
The Alliance will support national reforms seeking to set up or strengthen apprenticeship schemes. The Commission invites all potential partners to join the Alliance: public authorities, businesses, trade unions, chambers of commerce, providers of vocational education and training, youth representatives and employment services. It is encouraging them to make firm commitments on boosting public and private funding for apprenticeship-type schemes.
By signing the joint Declaration, the European representatives of trade unions and employers have committed to focus their efforts in the next six months to:
- raise awareness of the benefits of apprenticeships to employers and to young people
- spread experience and good practice in their own organisations
- motivate and advise their member organisations on developing quality apprenticeships attuned to the skills needs of the labour market.
They will also encourage their members to:
- cooperate with schools and employment services
- support training of in-company mentors and coaching of apprentices
- increase the supply and quality of apprenticeships
The Commission has committed to:
- promote peer learning/review to support policy reform in Member States, in particular those with VET-related country-specific recommendations
- ensure the best use of EU funds to contribute to the objectives of the Alliance (support systems-level development, learning content and mobility of apprentices and staff)
- explore the inclusion of apprenticeships in the EURES network, in close cooperation with relevant stakeholders
- invite Eurochambres and other relevant stakeholders to pledge measures contributing to concrete delivery of the Alliance.
Johanna Wanka, German Federal Minister for Education and Research, and Algimanta Pabedinskienė, Lithuanian Minister of Social Security and Labour, for the EU Presidency, are also taking part in today's launch. The European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), which represents 50 multinational companies employing 7 million people, backs the Alliance with a network of business 'ambassadors'. Franco Bernabè, Chairman and CEO of Telecom Italia, said: “We fully support this Alliance. We must all work together in new ways to change attitudes and create more and better apprenticeships.”
The European Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Eurochambres) plans to foster partnerships based on ones which their members have already signed up to in Germany, Spain, Austria, Romania and Hungary. The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber is also running projects in Romania and Slovakia to set up a dual apprenticeship system, combining learning in public VET schools with experience in enterprises.
The Commission's plan to launch a European Alliance for Apprenticeships was announced as part of its Rethinking Education initiative (see IP/12/1233) and Youth Employment Package (see IP/12/1311 and MEMO/12/938). The European Council of 7-8 February 2013 invited the Commission to establish the Alliance as part of measures to tackle youth unemployment. It is also a key element of the Commission's 19th June Communication on 'Working together for Europe's young people'.
The 27-28 June 2013 European Council Conclusions referred to the promotion of high quality apprenticeships and work-based learning, notably through the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, as a key element of supporting youth employment.
The European Alliance for Apprenticeships is launched as part of the World Skills Competition.
For more information
European Alliance for Apprenticeships: http://ec.europa.eu/apprenticeships-alliance
EU measures to tackle youth unemployment: MEMO/13/464
Follow Androulla Vassiliou on Twitter @VassiliouEU
Follow László Andor on Twitter @LaszloAndorEU