Options for improving traineeships and apprenticeships
By Sophie Petitjean | Monday 02 July 2012
Two studies carried out at the request of the European Commission highlight the need to improve traineeships and apprenticeships to facilitate the transition to employment and boost employability. They suggest in particular that there should be more guarantees in terms of quality and prospects for young people and that these schemes should be better adapted to business needs and more responsive to labour market requirements. “Apprenticeships and traineeships can build bridges for young people to enter the labour market and so help tackle Europe’s excessive levels of youth unemployment. […] These new studies shed more light on these schemes and will help us prepare our upcoming initiatives on improving the transition from school to work,” commented Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner László Andor. He was referring to the proposals for a quality framework for traineeships and a youth guarantee (to get young people into a job, training or further education within four months of leaving school), planned for the end of 2012.
With rising youth unemployment, the member states are turning increasingly to traineeships and apprenticeships, which make the transition from school to work easier. After analysing the situation in the EU27, the studies – which add up to some 1,200 pages in all – make a series of recommendations to member states and the Commission. The study on traineeships recommends: 1. the introduction of a clear definition of traineeships at EU level; 2. encouragement of traineeships as part of the curriculum rather than after students leave education; 3. an increase in the number of traineeships, in particular in small and medium-sized enterprises; 4. financial support for trainees; and 5. steps to encourage open and transparent recruitment procedures. The study on apprenticeship recommends: 1. uniform quality standards for apprenticeship-type studies; 2. a balance between specific occupational skills and general skills and competences; 3. involvement of the social partners in the design and organisation of apprenticeships; and 4. initiatives taken with students to improve the general image of the vocational education system.
The studies are available at
Employers in Europe currently offer company training positions to around 9.4 million young people (a number that has dropped sharply due to the crisis). These can be traineeships or apprenticeships.
Traineeshipsare time-limited periods of work experience that include an educational component. They can take a number of forms: traineeships that are part of higher education programmes; traineeships arranged on the open market (after graduating); traineeships associated with active labour market policies; traineeships as a mandatory element of vocational training, or transnational traineeships.
Apprenticeshipsare defined as dual vocational education and training that combine and alternate company-based training (periods of practical work experience) with school-based education (periods of theoretical/practical education in a school or training centre). Apprenticeship-type students represent approximately 40.5% of all secondary education students (only 16% based on apprenticeship in the strict sense) in the 27 member states. The countries with the largest number of apprenticeship-type students are the largest states, including Germany, Italy and France.