A set of policy messages to promote apprenticeship for adults by engaging more learners and companies was the highlight of Cedefop's Fourth policy learning forum (PLF) on apprenticeships, which took place online on 20 and 21 October.

The meeting attracted about 60 participants from all European Union Member States with a tripartite representation, from governments, employers and trade unions, thus presenting a unique opportunity to share viewpoints from different stakeholder perspectives.

The forum's main theme was the regulatory frameworks, policies and practices in the EU Member States regarding the role and use of apprenticeships in upskilling and reskilling low-skilled adults.

Cedefop Executive Director Jürgen Siebel noted that, in fact, the potential of adult apprenticeship is yet to be explored, adding that apprenticeships are the most suitable form of vocational education and training (VET) also for adults, given that, thanks to their characteristics, they align demand and supply.

Analysing the state of affairs in various EU countries, discussants pinpointed the challenges as regards apprenticeships for adults, but also pointed out that some Member States have highly flexible systems in place that allow tailoring apprenticeship delivery to the heterogeneous needs of adults.

Furthermore, they marked the opportunities that adult apprenticeships open up when it comes to integrating migrants and refugees into the host countries' labour markets and supporting the transition to a greener economy.

The policy recommendations reached during the discussions cover two main areas:

1. The conditions to make apprenticeship a possibility for adults

  • Removing barriers to access to quality training provision;
  • outreach and guidance to help adults understand the benefits;
  • non-financial incentives to motivate;
  • financial incentives and targeted and individualised support to companies;
  • flexibility in the organisation and delivery of training;
  • shaping apprenticeship to the distinctive characteristics of adults.

2. The conditions to engage more learners and companies

  • Understand the motivation of adults and companies in using apprenticeship for up- and reskilling;
  • clearly identify the real needs which apprenticeship may tackle;
  • systematically engage trade unions and employers alongside public authorities and collaboration between public and private employment.

The event closed in a positive note, with Cedefop Deputy Director Mara Brugia stressing that, 'with the involvement of social partners and the potential benefits it can bring about, apprenticeship can be a real vector towards building together the future that is ahead of us.'

For more on Cedefop's Fourth (PLF) on apprenticeships, including presentations and other material, click here.