Apprenticeship is the way to get out of unemployment by creating a link between vocational learning and labour market.

Apprenticeships are powerful measure against unemployment, which is widely entrenched in European Union. One of set of documents „Youth on the move“ which European Commission adopted in 2012 purpose was to create alliance of apprenticeship of Europe which is orientated to create more qualitative opportunities of apprenticeships and improve mobility of youth. Apprenticeships also creating a link between school and labour market.

youth_unemploymentIn 2015 unemployment rate in European Union fluctuated from 10 percent in January to 9.3 percent in October.[1] Youth unemployment in 2015 reached 20 percent. According to previous researches in 2014[2], countries with the lowest employment rate in Europe are Greece (49,4  percent), Croatia (54,6 percent), Italy (55,7 percent) and Spain (56 percent). France (64,3 percent), Cyprus (62,1 percent), Portugal (62,6 percent), United Kingdom (71,9 percent) and Lithuania (65,7 percent) do not stand behind with the low employment rate.

Apprenticeship is the recognized means by which people are trained to become craftspeople in certain designated trades. It is a program which is driven by employer demand, aimed at developing the skills of the apprentice to meet the needs of industry and the labor market.[3] Apprenticeships are necessary to implement vocational training. Other sources[4] called apprenticeships as paid jobs that incorporate on and off the job training. Different countries have different meanings of apprenticeship. For example, in Italy apprenticeships is defined as an employment contract for an indefinite period aimed at the training and employment of young people. In Germany definition is: „Shall, through a systematic training programmes, impart the vocational skills, knowledge and qualifications (vocational competence) necessary to engage in a form of skilled occupational activity in a changing working world. It should also enable trainees to acquire the necessary occupational experience“.[5] In all definitions training for new employees to gain skills for work is accentuated.

„Survey of VET-business cooperation on skills, entrepreneurship and apprenticeships“[6] in 2014 shows a numerous findings how to support and further develop the field of vocational training in Europe. 91 respondents – high-level representatives from large enterprises; sector organizations; labour and industry associations; national and European organizations representing SMEs; and national and European bodies representing VET providers – were interviewed. apprenticeship_trainingThey represent the key sectors of European Union: ICT, health and social care, energy, cultural and creative sectors, manufacturing & engineering, wholesale & retail trade, accommodation & food service activities/tourism, transport. A large group of respondents understand that VET institutions cannot give all skills and knowledge for students, therefore many companies have introductory training schemes, which help them to adapt. New employees are lacking of general competencies like communication, language, organizational and entrepreneurial skills. It is noticeable that people are not ready for the world of work. It is caused by immaturity and lack of experience.

Apprenticeships are strategically important for companies. Growing tendency is apprenticeships for vulnerable groups: seniors, immigrants and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Apprenticeships are dedicated to establish a solid and sustainable recruitment channel, giving the enterprises the chance to try out a potential future employee while at the same time teaching the apprentice company specific skills and practices. It is essential to ensure high quality apprenticeships, which can be done in three ways: setting up enabling framework conditions; ensuring access to enough – and the right apprentices; and applying effective quality assurance measures during the apprenticeship period.

Collaboration between company and VET providers are also necessary to ensure quality. There are five archetypes of collaboration describing the interaction between companies and VET providers on apprenticeships:

  • close and frequent collaboration based on mutual understanding and recognition;
  • one-way street from the enterprise to the VET provider (the enterprise tells the VET provider what they want);
  • one-way street from the VET provider to the enterprise (the VET provider tells the enterprise what they want);
  • relying primarily on formal standards and interacting only when required to;
  • no collaboration at all.

youth_choose_apprenticeshipAccording to the results of survey, entrepreneurial skills are developing by using staff training, assessing these skills by performance management, collecting ideas from the workforce, requiring autonomy, supporting a corporate culture facilitating entrepreneurial skills, giving an opportunity to develop their own project in the workplace.

Unfortunately, but large companies very rarely want to cooperate with others, they rather have their own training programmes. Small sized enterprises, on the contrary, want to collaborate, because they do not have enough resources and external help is necessary.

For example, in England during the period of academic year of 2014-2015 were 12 percent more apprenticeships than previous year. As in previous years, the majority of apprenticeships were in the service sectors. Worth to mention that until academic year of 2004-2005 apprenticeships were available only for people until 25 years old. In a contrary, now the major part of apprentices are over 25 years old. In 2014-2015, they made up 43% of all apprenticeship starts and were the largest group of starters.[7]

Meanwhile Spain is one of the three EU Member States that has only offered school-based initial vocational education and training (IVET).[8] Spain has two major problems: the highest youth unemployment rate in European Union and the highest school drop-out rate.[9] In 2012 Spain was inspired by the German model, which ensures the basis for dual vocational training. benefits_of_apprenticeship_for_SMEThere are five ways to develop this idea:

  • training carried out in training institution and work carried out in company;
  • training involving the company, which provides space, facilities or experts;
  • training carried out in an authorized or an accredited company and a training institution;
  • training shared between training institutions and the company, which consists of cooperating in specific proportions in the teaching and learning processes in the company and in the training institutions;
  • training provided only by the company.

Apprenticeship is essential in tourism and hospitality sector, which makes a major contribution to the European economy, through its impact on employment, growth and tax contributions. European Union tourism industry occupies about 13 million people.[10] hospitality_sector_and_tourismOne of the most important sectors in Europe provides not just economical, but also social field by creating work places for people, also young and first time labor market entrants and those returning to the job market. According to a report „The Hospitality Sector in Europe”, hospitality sector plays a critical role in fighting youth unemployment and is essential for jobs and growth of other sectors, because of its extensive development and connections with them. These findings are backed up by labor market statistics, which show that employment in the hospitality sector grew by 2.9 percent per year in 2000-2010.[11] However, a big part of tourism & hospitality sector employees are low-skilled and low-payed. This sector is widely entrenched in Europe and it is easy to get in it, but it is necessary to create qualitative submission of services. To reach that, there is need to train qualitative employees. Apprenticeship is the best way to do it by creating connections with vocational training institutions and labor market. Organizations in tourism and hospitality industries expect committed, competent, well-managed and well-motivated workforce which is focused on offering high quality product to increasingly demanding and discerning customer.[12] Apprenticeship provides training on and off workplace, as well as more general skills such as numeracy, communication, literacy and team-working, which guarantees quality and efficiency of work.

apprenticeshipDifferent countries with different approaches of apprenticeship seek for mutual purpose – help employees to orientate in specific labour sphere, which vocational schools cannot provide entirely. Interesting, but at first apprenticeship was dedicated only for people under 25 years old, but now major part of participants in these programmes are older employees. New employee cannot be fully ready for work, because of lacking of communication, language, organizational and management skills. Adaptation in the real work place is the best way to reduce unemployment in Europe and to create further development of qualitative labour market.


[1] European Union Unemployment Rate, Trading Economics, 2000-2016

[2] Unemployment statistics, Eurostat Statistics Explained, 2015

[3] Apprenticeship Review – Background Issues Paper, 2013

[4]  Jeanne Delebarre, Apprenticeship Statistics for England: 1996-2015

[5]  Union Learn with the TUC, Confederation Syndicat European Trade Union, Towards a European quality framework for apprenticeships and work-based learning.  Best practices and trade union contributions, 2013

[6] ICF GHK,  Danish Technological Institute, Technopolis Limited, 3s Unternehmensberatung GmbH, Preparation of the European Business Forum on Vocational Training. Survey of VET-business cooperation on skills, entrepreneurship and apprenticeships. Final survey report, 2014

[7] Jeanne Delebarre, Apprenticeship Statistics for England: 1996-2015

[8] Union Learn with the TUC, Confederation Syndicat European Trade Union,  Towards a European quality framework for apprenticeships and work-based learning, Best practices and trade union contributions, 2013

[9] Spain bets on German-style apprentices to fix youth unemployment, Reuters, 2015

[10] Archive:Tourism employment, Eurostat Statistics Explained, 2008

[11] Ernst & Young commissioned by The Brewers of Europe with support from HOTREC, The Hospitality Sector in Europe, 2013

[12] Dennis Nickson, Human Resource Management for Hospitality, 2013

Gabrielė Zakarevičiūtė, Intern at Institute