Looking back at 2020: Key highlights and milestones for the Alliance The year 2020 was full of new beginnings and challenges for the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA). Because of COVID-19, Europeans had to adapt to a new way of working and communicating, but EAfA saw this as an opportunity to make its activities more accessible than ever before. Here are our highlights and milestones from 2020. © European Commission From physical to virtual With many European countries going into lockdown, EAfA had to tailor its planned events to the ‘new normal’. Hosting online activities came with its own challenges, but it also allowed the Alliance to reach people who otherwise would not have been able to attend its physical events. Overall, in 2020, EAfA’s 10 webinars had nearly 680 participants, and more than 1 400 people took part in its 5 live discussions. Furthermore, EAfA developed 4 training modules on the topic of apprenticeship systems in the EU, which were completed by over 300 people. The Alliance also organised 18 events, including 2 high-level discussions with Commissioner Nicolas Schmit. You can check out EAfA’s full list of activities in 2020. If you missed any of our events, you can find summaries, recordings and reports, in the News section. EAfA is organising plenty more activities for you to get involved in throughout 2021. The renewed EAfA In July 2020, the European Commission announced the Youth Employment Support package. This package proposed fresh approaches to make vocational education and training more modern, attractive, flexible and fit for the digital age. In order to boost to apprenticeships across the EU, the package also announced a renewed EAfA. This was formally launched shortly after by Nicolas Schmit, the European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights. The renewed EAfA has published its action plan and activities for 2020/2021, addressing the following six priorities: encouraging commitment among Member States and companies to quality and effective apprenticeships by fostering national apprenticeship coalitions; incentivising support to small and medium-sized enterprises in providing a stable supply of quality and effective apprenticeships; mobilising local and regional authorities as catalysts for apprenticeships within the local business environment; strengthening social dialogue through more active involvement by national social partner organisations; proactively engaging European sectoral social dialogue committees on apprenticeships, with a view to obtaining agreement on joint sectoral pledges; supporting the representation of apprentices in Member States by relaunching the European Apprentices Network. The renewed Alliance was embedded in the Pact for Skills, as announced in the European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience. The Pact for Skills was launched in November and its main objective is to mobilise and encourage stakeholders to take concrete actions for the upskilling and reskilling of the workforce. One million apprenticeship opportunities During the European Vocational Skills Week in November, Commissioner Nicolas Schmit announced that EAfA had reached one million pledged apprenticeships. Mr Schmit emphasised that although this was an important milestone, EAfA’s mission was not yet accomplished: “We have to keep working. We have to make sure apprenticeships remain what they truly are: the high road to employment,” said the Commissioner. Launch of the European Network of Cities for Apprenticeships On 11 June, stakeholders from 14 European cities met online to launch the new European Network of Cities for Apprenticeships. The network is led by the Metropolitan City of Rome with support from EAfA. One of the network’s primary goals is to help cities to support apprenticeships by encouraging collaboration, and providing technical and policy assistance. In summary, the Alliance, along with its members and supports have achieved a great deal in 2020 and hope to maintain this momentum in 2021. If you are not already a member, you can take part by making a pledge of your own. Find out how, and view other pledges here. Do not forget to follow the Alliance on LinkedIn to keep up to date with EAfA news and share your ideas with the community.