Go back

The Role of Regions to foster apprenticeships highlighted at the EAfA event on 17-18 June in Brussels


The European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA) organized the High Level and Get Together event from 17-18 June 2024 in Brussels under the main topic of ‘Unleashing the untapped potential – apprenticeships as a response to labour shortages’.

The High-Level event was opened by EU Commissioner Nicolas Schmit, who explained that since its inception in 2013, the EAfA has been at the forefront of promoting and fortifying apprenticeships across Europe. Mr Schmit added that EAfA is uniting 40 countries and more than 400 organisations, and that the Alliance remains committed to enhancing the supply, quality, and perception of apprenticeships while fostering mobility of apprentices. In the aftermath of the European Year of Skills, which raised awareness for the need to provide the right skills to learners and upskill and reskill to cope with the challenges of the twin transition, apprenticeships emerge as a strategic solution to bridge the skills gap and ensure a sustainable workforce for the future. The EU Commissioner also stressed the VET innovative and excellence systems that operate at the regional level, pointing to his visit to the Basque Country and meeting with Basque stakeholders.

Four interesting panel discussions followed the welcoming of new EAfA members on: 1 – Apprenticeships to address labour shortages. 2 – Apprenticeships as a quality offer under the Youth Guarantee. 3 – Guidance as the key to anticipation 4 – Apprenticeships for adults – unlocking opportunities.

The panels provided insights from EAfA members and representatives from CSOs, education providers, businesses and public authorities. Background documents for each panel were prepared in advance and takeaway messages were shared with the participants. The High-Level event was closed by Chiara Riondino, Head of Unit Vocation Education and Training DGEMPL, who stressed two main aspects that were repeated during the discussions: the attractiveness of VET and hence apprenticeships and also the sense of community and sharing in the EAfA.

Following the High-Level Event, the Get Together Event took place on the afternoon of 18 June 2024. Driven by EAfA members, this gathering offered participants the opportunity to network and explore cooperation opportunities. It also showcased key EAfA stakeholders to increase the visibility and recognition of their efforts toward quality apprenticeships.

The four EAfA Communities were presented, including the CoP on Role of Cities and Regions in fostering apprenticeships, for which EARLALL is a co-lead. Parallel thematic sessions followed on social inclusion and gender equality; apprentices as agents of the green and digital transition; learning mobility of apprentices and the role of cities and regions in fostering apprenticeships. This last session was moderated by EARLALL’s Director, Noelia Cantero. The session was opened with an example from Västra Götaland region by Ms Lotta Naglitsch who is a consultant at the Validation Centre in the region. Ms Naglitsch presented a government inquiry proposal for adult apprenticeships in Sweden and how Västra Götaland has offered to pilot the experience before exploiting it elsewhere in the country.  According to the proposal, companies should establish a salary for apprentices during their training experience which is not the case at the moment and apprentices need to rely on student loans.

Participants reflected then on issues such as the challenges that regions face in designing apprenticeship programmes, how these can be overcome in an innovative way and how can cities and regions work more effectively with education providers, business and CSOs to deliver high quality apprenticeships. Participants acknowledged that developing partnerships between local businesses, education providers and CSOs is crucial to meet the territory’s needs. Public authorities have the responsibility to gather all stakeholders and make sure that there is a clear vision and a trusting environment to facilitate cooperation and assure quality processes that benefit both individuals and local/regional growth.

Anna Barbieri, Team leader for Apprenticeships and Erasmus+ DG EMPL, concluded the two-day event by thanking the participants and the EAfA Team and encouraging EAfA members to continue sharing experiences and cooperating through the different activities that the Alliance proposes.

Further information:

Background papers: https://www.eafa2024hle.eu/en/background-papers

Materials and recording: https://www.eafa2024hle.eu/en/event-material Apprenticeships: a key solution to tackle labour and skills shortages – Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion – European Commission (europa.eu)

Speakers: https://www.eafa2024hle.eu/en/speakers