Improving the performance of national dual training systems

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EESC opinion: Improving the performance of national dual training systems

Key points

Young Europeans have been hit hard by the crisis, but higher youth unemployment is nothing new and points to structural problems with the transition from school to employment. Well-functioning VET systems based on dual training contribute to a smoother transition.


  • underlines that there is no "single best model" for dual training;
  • believes that there is a need for a European quality assessment tool that documents progress as well as the effects of the reforms Member States are undertaking in order to improve performance of the VET and dual training systems;
  • recommends that the Commission – with the relevant partners – develop tools to monitor and collect data, evaluate what works in the Member States and identify the key elements of well-functioning dual training systems. The aim is to ensure quality in the training systems and to highlight the correlation between dual training and employment;
  • proposes setting an EU target for VET and dual training.
  • believes that a target and the compilation of data could help improve educational levels and ensure that young people have the skills needed on the labour market. A target could be part of a renewed EU2020 strategy and the EESC therefore calls on the Commission to examine the options
  • recommends that Member States which do not have well-functioning dual training systems explore the costs involved in developing such systems, compared with the trade-off and benefits this would have for companies' competiveness and young peoples' job opportunities.
  • emphasises the importance of partnerships between schools, training centres, trade unions and the business community. The social partners play a decisive role in all stages of well-functioning dual training systems. Strengthening and making better use of social dialogue at all levels can be an effective instrument to improve the quality and attractiveness of dual training;
  • calls on the Member States to introduce or review on a systematic basis the professional development of VET teachers, mentors and trainers;
  • emphasises the importance of employers and believes that employers – including SMEs - will get more involved in apprenticeship schemes when these genuinely meet their needs and when there are good links with schools. Putting in place dual training systems that allow for the cost-effective involvement of employers and giving them greater ownership should be the focus in the coming years.


The crisis has hit young people particularly hard – and Europe is challenged by high youth unemployment rates. At the same time, there are millions of vacancies in Europe. This is an unacceptable situation. One explanation for these conflicting figures is a mismatch between the supply and demand for skills in certain parts of the economy.

Europe has chosen two ways to combat youth unemployment: the Youth Guarantee and the European Alliance for Apprenticeschips.

The Youth Guarantee is a good short-term solution that helps young people in a precarious situation. However, it does not provide long-term answers to structural youth unemployment caused by inefficient education systems. Developing apprenticeship systems is a long-term solution that ensures that the outputs of educational systems correspond to labour market needs.

A benchmark to measure the correlation between dual education and youth unemployment should be developed in order to strengthen the apprenticeship agenda. A benchmark would be a powerful tool for ensuring the necessary political attention.

Data for a benchmark could be collected yearly through the Labour Force Survey and should, at the very least, measure the amount/percentage of time spent in a company (apprenticeship) during education; and the number of months between graduation and employment.

Furthermore, the Member States' systems for Vocational Education and Training (VET) could be benchmarked on their performance, when it comes to enrolment, intake, dropout rates etc.