Apprenticeships for adults are one of the policy solutions to the need for supporting adults willing to train, while broadening the skills base of the working population across Europe.

According to Cedefop estimates, there are around 128 million adults with potential for upskilling or reskilling in the European Union. At the same time, in countries with long apprenticeship tradition, such as Germany or Austria, the number of companies providing apprenticeships and of young people looking for them has been falling.

In response, EU Member States have decided to open apprenticeships to adults by removing age limits and by making them more flexible. Unlike young people taking up apprenticeships, adults have life responsibilities (such as a family) which are not always compatible with typical apprenticeship provision (such as schooling hours). These same responsibilities, however, can make them highly motivated and reliable apprentices.

Many adults also possess skills and work experience. To take this into account, countries have increasingly been offering skills assessments, shortened apprenticeships or even the possibility to sit directly for an apprenticeship exam.

Whatever the context, guidance is crucial: adults need to be well prepared to take up an apprenticeship. Read more in our latest briefing note.

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