Cross-border vocational education and training improves job prospects in the Upper Rhine region

Young French and German students benefit from a novel project, “Cross-border Apprenticeships in Alsace and Baden-Württemberg”, that dramatically broadens the range of opportunities for training and professional development.

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Promotional poster for the ”Cross-border Apprenticeships” project  © Région Alsace/ Promotional poster for the ”Cross-border Apprenticeships” project © Région Alsace/

Ten cross-border apprenticeship contracts were signed in 2011 and six of them have already led to actual job offers within the same firms. Two additional apprentices from that first series quickly found jobs in other companies, once their apprenticeships were successfully completed. 20 new contracts were signed in 2012, and 27 more in 2013.

Most apprenticeships last two years and help improve linguistic and cultural skills along with the technical knowhow required in each trade. Aspiring apprentices can choose from over 1 000 different apprenticeship offers and 35 introductory workshops featured on the project’s interactive website. They can also post their CVs and be put in contact with prospective employers. Six R&D firms and institutions have participated in the project, along with 110 small and medium enterprises. This network of cross-border resources is opening doors for aspiring young workers in careers as varied as accounting, quality management engineering, sales, industrial logistics, landscaping, dental prosthetics and many more.

Job mobility

The Cross-border Apprenticeships project dovetails perfectly with one of the EU’s Operational Programme priorities for the region, “making the Upper Rhine area an integrated region in terms of training, work and habitat.”

Both Alsace and Baden-Württemberg favour apprenticeships and dual learning (which combines an apprenticeship in a firm with vocational training at school) as a way to increase young people’s chances in the labour market. Thanks to the Cross-border Apprenticeships project, a young engineer studying in her native city of Strasbourg in Alsace, for example, can become apprenticed to a water management company in Freiburg, and a young pastry chef from Breisach can gain experience and hone his skills by becoming an apprentice at a restaurant in Colmar.

The Alsace Regional Council has partnered with the Institute of Dual Higher Learning, with headquarters in Stuttgart and eight campuses spread across the state, which cooperates with more than 9 000 companies and social institutions all over Germany.

“With this project we’ve set in motion a real cross-border dynamic to foster professional success for young people in the Upper Rhine region.”

Mr Steven Thénault, Director for Education and Training, Alsace Regional Council and “Cross-border Apprenticeships” Project Manager

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for “Cross-border Apprenticeships in Alsace and Baden-Württemberg” was EUR 300 000, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 150 000 from the “INTERREG IV Upper Rhine” Operational Programme for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

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