The topic of apprenticeship has always been very present in our work on Vocational Education and Training (VET) in last several years. We have been advocating for high quality of work-based learning, with a focus on learner and educational aspect of apprenticeship, we have been also actively looking into ensuring that apprentices themselves should always participate in decisions that concern their realities. We support our Member Organisations in representing VET students and apprentices on national levels, but now the efforts of having the voice of apprentices present at European level have brought a concrete result.
On the 27th and 28th of April, the first meeting of the European Network of Apprentices (EAN) took place in Brussels, Belgium. The network was created in cooperation with the European Youth Forum (YFJ), and with the support from the European Commission (EC). After several months of discussing the concept and the mandate of the Network, looking into what could be its main tasks and how would it operate, we could finally kick-off its work.
Currently (for the period 2017-2018), the Network will be composed of individuals, who are either apprentices themselves, or are mandated to represent apprentices through their position in youth organisations. The role of the Network has been defined as following:
- To develop the views of young people on apprenticeships through exchanging experiences and best practices, discussing challenges, sharing information on important educational and employment policies and research developments on apprenticeships;
- To function as an informal consultative body of the European Commission on apprenticeships, particularly for the Commission's European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA), by providing input to EC proposals/initiatives, events, EAfA meetings, etc;
- To facilitate contacts between youth organisations and other actors of apprenticeships;
- To develop a concrete proposal for a larger and more consolidated European Network of Apprentices, as of 2019;
- To attend and contribute to meetings of the European Commission and EU Presidencies on apprenticeships and VET.
In the network, OBESSU is represented by Board member Lasse Sjøbeck Jørgensen, Hannah Colston from NSoA (OBESSU Candidate Organisation - UK) and we also supported the application of Rosemarijn Dam from JOB (a Dutch VET Students Union that we cooperate with). The Network is accompanied by one of OBESSU staff members, too.
During the first meeting the members have exchanged their experiences on success stories and challenges of apprenticeship systems across Europe. First discussion on work priorities and tasks for upcoming months has also taken place. The work will be continued online, and the next meeting will happen at the end of May, alongside the European Alliance for Apprenticeships high level meeting which will take place in Malta.