The new "Erasmus" for APPRENTICES

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Georges Dassis, President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), participated in the presentation of the pilot project "European Framework for mobility of apprentices", in Toledo, Spain, on 30 September.

After the enormous success of the Erasmus programme (for higher education students), the European Union is launching a new project, this time focused on vocational education for trainees and apprentices (who do not go to university or college).

As Europe is facing a difficult time when it comes to creating jobs (currently 7.5 million young Europeans aged 15 to 24 are without any employment or qualifications), we have to learn from the countries who have rigorous apprenticeship programmes, such as Austria, Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands, and make the way easier for younger people to enter the labour market.

Since 2012, the EESC has been strongly committed to combatting youth unemployment and has always drawn attention to the importance of involving the stakeholders in professional training programmes and has delivered several opinions on the subject.

In July 2015, the EESC Labour Market Observatory (LMO) jointly organised a high-level conference with the European Parliament on the mobility of apprentices, and the presentations and debates during the conference contributed to the fine-tuning of this pilot project.

At present, the mobility of apprentices is possible, but only on a short-term basis (between a week and a month). This new programme will have a duration of between six months and a year.

According to Jean Arthuis, MEP, promoter of this initiative: "Going abroad and becoming integrated into a country allows to master the language, to discover European diversity, to reinforce European citizenship."

Georges Dassis fully supports the initiative and underlines the importance of ensuring that these programmes are of high quality, ideally regulated by a "Single Apprenticeship Contract", and granting the apprentice a diploma attesting to his acquired knowledge, skill and ability. It is also important for these contracts to be integrated into the education system in a way that prevents them being misused to reduce labour costs.