Engagement of SMEs in work-based learning – News from the two day event In September 2019, the European Commission and the European Training Foundation hosted the ‘European Alliance for Apprenticeships 4th regional seminar for candidate countries'. The purpose of the event was to discuss the latest policy developments in apprenticeships and work-based learning in EU Candidate Countries and share experiences between them and the EAfA members. The thematic focus of this year's event was on the engagement of small and medium-sized enterprises in work-based learning. The seminar was held in Skopje, Macedonia, and gathered about 90 participants, including delegations from each Candidate Country, stakeholders from North Macedonia, EAfA members and representatives of the European Apprentices Network and EU level institutions. Speaking at the event, the representative of the Economic Chamber of North Macedonia, Elena Milevska Strbevska highlighted that: “Market needs are changing fast, that’s why it is fundamental to work together with companies, and SMEs in particular, to ensure that curricula remain relevant.” The meeting included a workshop on SMEs' engagement in apprenticeships. In groups, participants could identify key challenges and potential solutions. The workshop conclusions focused on three key areas: How to effectively communicate the benefits of apprenticeships to SMEs How to involve them to develop relevant curricula How to effectively support, mentor and work with SMEs This resonated with the Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of North Macedonia, Arber Ademi, who added: “A priority for our country is to develop a VET system able to provide our youth with a variety of opportunities.” Sari Turunen-Zwinger, from the Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI) also spoke at the event. She outlined some of the priorities set by the Finnish presidency in the Education and Training sector. These included: Advance Erasmus+ negotiations Fostering continuous learning Promoting future-oriented education Strengthening equity, equality and effectiveness Enhancing cooperation between education and research As part of the seminar, attendees visited a number of local VET providers, to witness practical examples of programmes, including: Auto Transporting VET School EVN & Electro Technical VET School Catering and Hospitality VET School The event was also attended by representatives from the European Apprentices Network (EAN) and young people involved in VET from North Macedonia. The EAN had an internal meeting within the margins of the scheduled agenda. During the EAfA ceremony, new members were welcomed to the Alliance: Economic Chamber of Macedonia, Republic of North Macedonia; SG AKADEMİ TRAINING, Turkey You can view the event agenda and browse through photographs from the event on flickr. EAfA members benefit from Apprenticeship Support Services (AppSS), a new package of support that offers online resources and networking opportunities, allowing members to connect, learn and act. Interested in joining the Alliance? Find out more in our dedicated section and join the LinkedIn group.