The online conference “High quality apprenticeships for all. The role of regions and cities" organized by the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA) and the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), in close collaboration with the European Association of Regional and Local Authorities for Lifelong Learning (EARLALL ), the German delegation to the CoR and the Basque government. The event made it possible to take stock of the role that regions and cities play in promoting high-quality apprenticeships.
The live discussion was opened by the European Commissioner for Labor and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, who immediately focused on young people, the most affected by the pandemic, who must be guaranteed valid tools such as apprenticeships and training inclusive, to enable them to access quality jobs. In the ten years - according to Schmit - it is necessary to change the perception of public opinion on apprenticeships and vocational training, political considerations as a kind of plan B in employment policies. A tough period like the pandemic, however, also recorded some best practices, as in France, where in the last period, despite the enormous difficulties linked to the spread of Covid, many apprenticeship contracts were signed, and Italy which, although the chronicity and the high level of youth unemployment, has included the promotion of apprenticeship in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan.
"What Europe needs is a clear project," said Anne Karjalainen, president of the Commission for Social Policy, Education, Employment, Research and Culture (SEDEC). “To improve policies on apprenticeships, it is necessary to intervene first at the local level, favouring the relationship between regions, provinces and municipalities. The regions, in particular, are the catalysts of the process, they are the ones who provide and distribute social services correctly. Apprenticeships are essential to develop the skills required by the labour market”.
According to Jorge Arévalo Turrillas, Deputy Minister for Vocational Training and Regional Councilor for Education, Language Policy and Culture, who spoke on behalf of the Basque Country, the fourth industrial revolution is advancing. Geostrategy and geopolitics corner Europe in favour of the United States and China. European states cannot run alone, to be more competitive requires greater cohesion of the European Union.
Daniela Ballico, mayor of Ciampino, as well as a member of the Committee of the Regions, introduced the theme of the relationship between apprenticeships and disabilities, underlining how in times of pandemic the spread of smart working and the use of new technologies have allowed people affected by a physical disability to be able to do any job.
Cristina Grieco, from the Italian Ministry of Education, focused attention on the relationship between school and work: "In Italy we work hard on apprenticeships. Until a few years ago, the apprenticeship was an employment contract aimed exclusively at young people. School and work were two separate worlds. Now, instead, the apprenticeship guarantees on-the-job training and can be considered an instrument of active policy and inclusion. The further step that needs to be taken is to make training more attractive, and to make it a credible alternative to university. It is also necessary to accompany the students closely to prevent them from abandoning the course of study ”.
Representing the Metropolitan City of Rome, on June 4, the deputy mayor Maria Teresa Zotta intervened, who illustrated the policies in place for the dissemination of the apprenticeship tool: "Despite the contraction due to the pandemic, the Metropolitan City of Rome has financed the training for the apprenticeship of about 16 thousand young people in the two-year period 2019-2020. An agreement is being signed with the orders of accountants, which will help us to better reach small businesses in the area, and we are working on agreements with trade associations and professional orders too. We have also created territorial tables with the Municipalities to reach local pacts for a more equitable and sustainable development, focusing on the skills necessary for a recovery plan centred on the green and digital transition ”. Zotta underlined also that on these issues there is the opportunity to share actions and common lines with other European cities: "With the European Network of Cities for Apprenticeships, the working tables are open for the development of an overall document, that strengthens the role of this level of government in the implementation of policies for the development of the territory and active employment policies ".
To read the report of EAfA, click here