The external factors that have an impact on apprenticeship and the relevant design and delivery responses were discussed at a joint Cedefop/OECD symposium, on 7 October in Paris.

New work carried out by international researchers was presented to over 100 participants representing ministries, social partners and national apprenticeship institutions from around the world.

Apprenticeship has a long history of enabling young people’s transition from education to sustained skilled employment. When employers are fully engaged, apprenticeship aligns the formative education and training of learners to actual labour market needs.

In recent years, governments across Europe and the OECD have invested considerable resources in improving apprenticeship provision, introducing and reforming apprenticeship to reach even more learners, both young people and, increasingly, adults. The aim has been to ensure that apprenticeships are attractive to learners, to employers and to society, providing apprentices with skills demanded by employers while contributing to societal and economic well-being (OECD, 2018).  To achieve this, learning from other countries’ experiences is vital, as they develop apprenticeships within different policy approaches and national contexts (Cedefop, 2018).

Today’s symposium looked at the future of apprenticeship from the perspective of new approaches to education and training and external megatrends – such as socio-demographic changes, digitalisation, automation and other new technologies, new forms of work organisation, ageing populations – and considered how they have affected (or will affect) the design and delivery of apprenticeship.

Among the topics presented were: how apprenticeship is changing in response to learners’ and employers’ preferences, labour market needs and policy priorities; how companies adapt their training provision to match technological changes; how apprenticeship relates to academic systems and expands to higher education; and selected country programmes.

Cedefop Executive Director Jürgen Siebel and OECD’s Director of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs, Stefano Scarpetta addressed the participants.

Mr Siebel said: ‘It is really time to think about where apprenticeship is headed. Accelerating labour market change, new forms of work and learning, and changing partnership and cooperation models require fundamental reflection on how to best shape the apprenticeships of the future. I trust the joint Cedefop/OECD symposium will give us food for thought and help us find the ways Cedefop can best support policy-makers in their efforts to build the apprenticeship of tomorrow.’

Mr Scarpetta said: ‘Digitalisation, ageing and globalisation are creating many new opportunities but also new challenges to our education and training systems. Over the next 10 to 15 years, one in seven jobs may be fully automated and another third may be overhauled across the OECD. Good quality apprenticeships, which prepare learners with the skills that employers highly value, must play a central role in the package of effective skills policies.’

You can find the new research presented at the symposium here. A summary publication will be published by the OECD shortly after the symposium and the full papers will be published by Cedefop in 2020.