26 January 2022

European Alliance for Apprenticeships session: the lack of apprentices undermines functioning of companies

Speaking at the first session of the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA), Ceemet Director General Delphine Rudelli was invited to provide the sectoral employers view on the six Action Plan priorities for 2022.

Employers and trade unions – extremely close positions

Taking the floor after her trade union counterpart, Luc Triangle from industriAll Europe, Delphine Rudelli started by emphasising that on the topic of apprenticeship, Ceemet and industriAll Europe have always shared the same views and worked very closely together.

Having insisted on the importance of apprenticeships for the industry and society when there was no interest at all, it is very satisfying that the tide has turned, and social partners finally get the recognition that this issue is important.

However, there is no one-size fits all solution as the situation on national level varies from one country to another. This also applies to the regulatory side where some Member States still not have implemented the European quality framework for apprenticeships.

Skills shortages

The reduced number of apprentices is a major issue for companies. Without the stream of new apprentices that they have to train, there will be no skilled workers to realise the digital and green transitions. Delphine Rudelli says:

“COVID19 is a punctual problem for companies, it will eventually go away. The skills shortages, however, have been haunting us for the past two decades. We are at a point where no apprentices today mean no workers tomorrow”

One of the reasons the number of apprenticeships is going down is the, wrong, idea that apprenticeships are a second-choice career path to enter the labour market. Changing that perception amongst parents and the improving the image of the tech and industry sector amongst potential apprentices will be a key element to attract young people

Involvement of social partners

Ceemet and industriAll Europe have a longstanding track record of cooperation and promotion of apprenticeships at all levels.

In 2018 both joined the EAfA and renewed their Pledge in 2021 to increase the visibility of the issue, at European and -predominantly- national level, at a time the main focus went to the National Recovery and Resilience Plans. Social partners saw this as an opportunity for countries with a less developed apprenticeship system. Member States would kick off structural reforms and provide the legal framework. Social partners are ready to do their part and get involved in the governance.

These points proves that successful apprenticeships are a joint responsibility which has to be taken up by young people, parents, governments, social partners, companies and workers.