In a response to high youth unemployment rates across Europe, the European Commission has officially launched today the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, an initiative meant to help fight youth unemployment through the partnership of key employment and education stakeholders. The project should improve the quality and supply of apprenticeships across the EU by facilitating the transition of young Europeans from school to work. Through this project the EC plans to identify “the most successful apprenticeship schemes in the EU and apply appropriate solutions in each member state,” according to the EC press release.
Youth unemployment (working population aged between 14 and 25) reached 23.8 percent in Romania in the first quarter of 2013, according to data from the National Institute of statistics. This was the most affected age segment by unemployment while the general unemployment rate was 7.5 percent.
In May 2013, the youth unemployment rate was 23.1 percent in the EU 27 and 23.9 percent in the euro zone, up from 22.8 percent and 23.0 percent respectively in May 2012, according to data from Eurostat. In May 2013, the lowest rates were reported in Germany (7.6 percent), Austria (8.7 percent) and the Netherlands (10.6 percent), and the highest in Greece (59.2 percent in March 2013), Spain (56.5 percent) and Portugal (42.1 percent), according to the same source.
Countries with strong vocational education and training (VET) systems, such as Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands and Austria, tend to have lower rates of youth unemployment, something which was confirmed by the latest European Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review. This indicated that apprenticeships and traineeships are often a stepping stone to a permanent job, according to the EC.
“The Alliance will support national reforms seeking to set up or strengthen apprenticeship schemes. The Commission invites all potential partners to join the Alliance: public authorities, businesses, trade unions, chambers of commerce, providers of vocational education and training, youth representatives and employment services. It is encouraging them to make firm commitments on boosting public and private funding for apprenticeship-type schemes,” said EC representatives.
The Alliance is supported by the first-ever joint Declaration by the European Commission, the Presidency of the EU’s Council of Ministers and European level trade union and employer organisations (the European Trade Union Confederation – ETUC, BusinessEurope, the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public services – CEEP and the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises – UEAPME). The Alliance promotes measures which will be supported by the European Social Fund, the Youth Employment Initiative and Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, training and youth.
The European Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Eurochambres) said it plans to foster partnerships similar to the ones which its members have already signed up to in Germany, Spain, Austria, Romania and Hungary. The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber is also running projects in Romania and Slovakia to set up a dual apprenticeship system, combining learning in public VET schools with experience in enterprises.
Read more about the lack of well-trained skilled staff in Romania here.