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Empowering young people by expanding and improving apprenticeships. Apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning help young people make smoother transitions from school to employment. Thus, they are central to the development and implementation of the youth guarantee schemes.

There is broad consensus in Europe that apprenticeships can be an efficient way of addressing labour market imbalances. Thus, the European Commission’s communication, Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes (2012) identified quality apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning as a strategic priority. The European Commission also manages the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA).

Despite this recognition, obstacles to establishing good quality apprenticeship schemes persist. Several necessary conditions must converge, which are not always present. The European Commission adopted a proposal for a European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships in October 2017. This initiative is part of the New Skills Agenda for Europe, launched in June 2016.

Within the EU policy framework, Cedefop carries out activities across countries and also within single Member States to provide evidence to support policy making at the EU and national levels and to support European cooperation on apprenticeships among Member States.

Cedefop activities on apprenticeships

1. Thematic Country Reviews

2. Policy Learning Forums

3. Research

3.1 Community of apprenticeship experts

4. Other activities

4.1 Policy monitoring

4.2 Support to the ET 2020 Working Group (WG) on VET

4.3 Resources

4.3.1 ReferNet articles on work-based learning and apprenticeships

4.3.2 Bibliography: Apprenticeships in work based learning (2010-2016)

1. Thematic Country Reviews

In line with EU policies, Cedefop supports cooperation at European level among Member States and interacts with individual countries that wish to develop quality apprenticeships.

Since May 2014, Cedefop has carried out Thematic Country Reviews on Apprenticeships in 5 volunteer countries: Lithuania and Malta as part of a first wave (2014-2015); GreeceItaly and Slovenia as part of a second wave (2015-2017). Cedefop is carrying out a third wave of reviews in two more countries, Cyprus and Croatia. In this round, Cedefop has also piloted a lighter version of the TCR on apprenticeships (flash TCRs) in Belgium (French-speaking Community), in addition to Sweden. The flash TCR in Sweden has been concluded and the publication is now available. The reports of the reviews carried out in Cyprus, Croatia and French-speaking Belgium are expected in 2019.

The main objectives of the country reviews are:

  • at national level, through close cooperation of Cedefop with national stakeholders, to carry out in-depth review of apprenticeships in selected countries to identify their specific strengths and challenges and propose a set of policy recommendations for ensuring quality apprenticeships;
  • at European level, to increase the evidence base supporting policy- and decision-makers in European countries, at different levels, in designing and implementing policies and measures for developing and/or improving quality apprenticeships; also to support comparison across countries.

With findings from each country participating in the project, the thematic country reviews will gradually expand the knowledge on apprenticeship across Europe. They will add a high level of detail, including factors determining or hampering the success of apprenticeship initiatives in different national contexts.

The review methodology relies on:

  • a common analytical framework;
  • an inclusive, participatory and collaborative approach and policy learning;
  • an evolving and iterative approach.

A broad range of stakeholders in the country (such as responsible ministries, social partners, and VET providers) are involved at different stages of the review.


2. Policy Learning Forums

With the Policy Learning Forums on Apprenticeships, Cedefop supports countries exchange and generate knowledge on apprenticeships to take their reforms and policies further. The forums may take different formats (different events, platforms for info exchanges, etc). The aim is to exchange and generate knowledge and maybe build consensus around shared problems - bring, generate more evidence to support evidence-based policy making at the national and EU levels.

The first policy learning forum (PLF) on apprenticeships was linked to the thematic country reviews on apprenticeships (TCRs), which Cedefop launched in 2014.

The second policy learning forum (PLF) on apprenticeships also engaged the countries involved in the thematic reviews on apprenticeships (TCRs) at different stages. It took place on 18 and 19 October 2018.


3. Research

Ongoing research:

  • Financing of apprenticeships/dual VET in the EU: the aim is to provide:
    • a comprehensive overview/database of the financing arrangements for apprenticeships/dual VET in 28 EU countries, which after finalisation of this assignment will become available online on Cedefop's website;
    • a comparative analysis of the collected data on financing arrangements for apprenticeships/dual VET.
  • Apprenticeships for adults: this will focus on apprenticeships as an effective way of retraining and upskilling adults to re-enter the labour market and/or boost their careers. The results will be published in 2019.

Past research:

  • Cross-national overview on apprenticeships: the aim was to map system level apprenticeship schemes existing in the Member States plus Iceland and Norway and carry out a comparative analysis of those schemes that meet a number of common criteria. The results of the overview were published in 2018 in a report and in an on-line database.
  • Governance and financing of apprenticeships


3.1 Community of apprenticeship experts

To strengthen and expand the knowledge on apprenticeships in Europe, the Department for Learning and Employability launched Cedefop community of apprenticeship experts. The experts’ independent and voluntary long-term collaboration is expected to improve the understanding of apprenticeship schemes and ultimately support their quality implementation in Europe.

Experts were identified through a structured process, by consulting the countries’ public bodies in charge of VET. The first meeting was held in Thessaloniki on 17 October 2018 and the virtual launching meeting followed on 13 December 2018.

So far, 29 experts confirmed their membership (one per country or sub-national level in the case of Belgium and the UK).


Name and surname 

Institution and department  


Email address


Kurt Schmid

IBW Research


Belgium – Flemish community

An Katrien Sodermans

Agency SYNTRA Vlaanderen

Head of Knowledge Centre

Belgium – French community

Michel Urbain


Chargé de missions

Belgium – German-speaking community

Verena  Greten

Institute for vocational education and training

Executive Director


Petya  Evtimova

Project Management Unit DOMINO

Team Leader


Božo  Pavičin

Croatian Chamber of Commerce - education division

Head of Division


Elias Margadjis

Ministry of Education and Culture

Director of Secondary Technical and Vocational Education


Henrik  Hjorth

University College Copenhagen

Head of Department


Karin  Ruul

Vocational Education Department, Ministry of Education and Research

Chief expert


Riikka  Vacker

Finnish National Agency for Education

Counsellor of Education


Olga Kafetzopoulou

Ministry of Education

Senior expert


Alessandra Biancolini




Ilze  Buligina

Department of vocational and adult education, Ministry of Education and Science

Senior expert


Lina Vaitkutė

Qualifications and VET Development Centre

Head of Qualifications Formation Unit


Daniel Schroeder

Chambre des Métiers du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg 

Conseiller de Direction



Vincent Maione

National Skills Council, Ministry of Education and Employment

Chief Executive


Bram  Loog


Senior Policy Advisor



Astrid Kristin  Moen Sund

Union of Education Norway

Senior advisor/expert on VET


Andrzej  Stępnikowski

Polish Craft Association

Deputy Director 



Marina Vinhas


 Senior advisor


Ana Radulescu

Ministry of Labour and Social Justice

Superior counsellor Employment, Competences and Vocational Mobility Policies


Karol Jakubik

Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of Slovak republic

Senior Advisor / Department of Regional Schooling


Darko Mali

Institute of VET

Head of Department



Luz del Mar Banos

SEPE- Guidance and International Programs Department

Technician of the

Guidance and International Programs Department


Lotta Naglitsch

Skolverket - Swedish National Agency for Education

Director of education

UK - England

Andrea Laczick

Edge Foundation

Research and Policy Manager

UK - Northern Ireland

Terry McComiskey

Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment

Education Manager, CCEA Regulation

UK -Scotland

George Brown

Scottish Accreditation Authority, Accreditation

Head of accreditation

UK - Wales

Jeff Protheroe

National Training Federation for Wales

Director of Operations


4. Other activities


4.1 Policy monitoring (Riga MTDs)


In 2015, Member States agreed on priorities for VET until 2020 to achieve the objectives decided in 2010 (Bruges communiqué). One of them relates directly to apprenticeships, or work-based learning more generally. Cedefop regularly reports on progress in this ‘deliverable’ and the others in collaboration with the European Training Foundation.

Planned outputs are as follows:

  • country-based information (EU 28+ IS+NO) on all deliverables agreed in 2015, one of them on work-based learning, including apprenticeships, others including related information;
  • an interim report in 2017 synthesising progress in the deliverables including issues related to apprenticeship;
  • a final report expected by 2020.

This work relies on qualitative and quantitative data provided by Cedefop’s ReferNet and other Cedefop work related to the deliverables. It also draws on discussions with Directors General and the Advisory Committee for vocational education and training.

Traditionally, Cedefop publishes updates of reports and concise ‘spotlights’ describing the key features of VET systems in the EU-28+IS+NO. These publications include sections on apprenticeships or similar schemes where applicable and may include relevant information in other parts. Information on apprenticeship may vary in terms of content and degree of detail, as the reports are country-driven.

4.2 Support to the ET 2020 Working Group (WG) on VET

The key purpose of the ET 2020 WG on VET is to respond to the objectives of ET 2020, Rethinking Education, and the Bruges Communiqué as well as the Riga conclusions of June 2015; notably the call to governments, social partners and VET providers to promote work-based learning in all its forms, with special attention to apprenticeships, and to make related policies more effective and more targeted to the labour market needs. The rationale is that promoting work-based learning, including apprenticeships, can help young people make a smoother transition from school to work, improve their employability and hence, contribute to reducing youth unemployment.

The work of the ET 2020 WG on VET changes focus every two years.

In the period 2016-2018, the focus is on professional development of teachers and trainers. The group specifically addresses governance and partnership arrangements between schools and companies.

In the period 2014-2015, the focus of the ET 2020 WG on VET was on apprenticeships and work-based learning. As a result of this work, the European Commission published.

High-performance apprenticeships & work-based learning: 20 guiding principles (12/2015). This document presents 20 guiding principles developed by the ET 2020 WG on VET in 2014-2015. These principles were developed during a series of meetings, in-depth country focus workshops and webinars. Representatives of the EU Member States, EFTA countries, and Candidate Countries as well as EU Social Partner and VET Provider organisations, Cedefop and the European Training Foundation (ETF) participated in the Working Group, which was chaired by the Commission. Cedefop and external consultants have contributed to the working group through background documents and research activities.

4.3 Resources

4.3.1 ReferNet articles on work-based learning and apprenticeships

ReferNet articles aim to offer analytical and detailed information for comparative analyses and they complement the VET systems reports.

The articles provide a national overview of existing work-based learning and apprenticeships in the EU countries, their specific features, main strengths and weaknesses. The articles take account of existing evidence, in particular (i) ReferNet contribution to the reporting on European training policyand VET-in-Europe, and (ii) the studies published by the Commission: Apprenticeship Supply in the Member States of the European Union (2012), and Apprenticeship and Traineeship schemes in EU27: Key Success Factors (2013).

4.3.2 Bibliography: Apprenticeships in work based learning (2010-2016)


Project contacts

Apprenticeship team