Quality apprenticeships in Europe: let apprentices have a say

Apprenticeship schemes should be shaped with the active involvement of the people directly concerned – apprentices themselves and their organisations. This is the EESC's main reservation regarding the proposed framework for quality and effective apprenticeships, which the EESC otherwise believes will help raise standards across the EU.

Youth and parents' organisations, student unions and apprentices themselves are not seen as natural stakeholders in developing apprenticeships, but as they are the main beneficiaries of such schemes, they should have a hand in designing, governing and implementing them, says the EESC in an opinion adopted on 19 April on the proposed Council Recommendation on a European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships.

It is essential to involve the social partners, as the proposal does, but it is also crucial to enlist the support of these other key constituencies, argues the EESC, which drew on the expertise of the European Youth Forum in defining its position.

But apprenticeships cannot solve unemployment. Although they can help improve people's chances of finding a job, unemployment is a complex issue that needs to be tackled from different angles, stresses the EESC.

Overall, the EESC welcomes the proposal, since it provides a common understanding of what constitutes a quality apprenticeship and defines its key elements - a written contract, rules for remuneration, time spent in the workplace, social protection, health and safety, etc.

Support for SMEs in supplying quality apprenticeships is a welcome provision, and transnational mobility for apprentices is also a plus in the EESC's view.

The EESC offers to monitor the implementation of the new framework in the Member States from the perspective of organised civil society.