Stakeholders and national experts directly involved in Cedefop’s thematic country reviews (TCRs) on apprenticeships took part in the first policy learning forum on apprenticeships on 7 and 8 September in Thessaloniki.

Cedefop launched the TCRs in 2014 to support cooperation among Member States at European level and to interact with individual countries wishing to develop quality apprenticeships in line with EU policies.

Cedefop Head of Department for Learning and Employability Antonio Ranieri opened the forum stressing that the improvement of Europe's economic context has had a favourable impact on apprenticeship schemes. He warned, however, that apprenticeships are not a shortcut to fighting unemployment – long-term planning is required.

European Commission’s Helen Hoffmann talked about inspirational cases of successful apprentices, pointing out the increasing importance of investing in apprenticeships as young people’s CVs now transcend borders.

Country representatives presented the main findings of the TCRs in their countries and ways of improving the reviews were discussed.

There have been three rounds of TCRs:

  • the first round, in Malta and Lithuania, was concluded in 2015;
  • the second, in Greece, Italy and Slovenia, finished in mid-2017;
  • the third kicked off in early 2017 in Cyprus and Croatia. As part of this round, Cedefop is piloting a light version called flash TCRs in Belgium (French-speaking Community) and Sweden.

The forum workshops examined apprenticeships’ place in education and training systems, governance, training content and learning outcomes, and participation of, and support to, companies.

Cost-benefit analysis of apprenticeships and a lively exchange of views and recommendations for policy-making were on the menu on the second day.