National Apprenticeship Service Seminar: Apprenticeships, the International Context

Leonardo Mobility gives young apprentices valuable experience with world leading European employers

On 8 February I attended the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) Seminar comparing international models for apprenticeship schemes, which took place as part of National Apprenticeship Week 2012.

Despite my slightly bleary eyes, as I’d opted to travel to London from Birmingham on the day, I was glad I’d arrived bright and early as it gave me the chance to chat to plenty of people, from organisations such as BT and Pearson Work Based Learning, before the presentations began. On explaining that the Lifelong Learning Programme had been given the opportunity to run a workshop on the benefits of providing European placements to apprentices, I was met with genuine interest and enthusiasm – definitely a good start to the day!

Learning from international practice

The morning key note speakers provided a mix of experience and expertise on the topic of ‘Excellence in Apprenticeships: an International Perspective’. The NAS set the scene, explaining that the third annual seminar was bigger than ever with 12 countries represented by a variety of academics, educationalists, practitioners and employers. The day would be all about sharing learning and celebrating the renaissance of the apprenticeship.

I was particularly interested to see the parallel that was drawn between low rates of youth unemployment and apprenticeships as NAS highlighted statistics showing that countries with strong apprenticeship traditions such as Germany, Switzerland and Austria have been affected far less by youth unemployment recently.

We were then given information on apprentices by the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training.

Did you know that in Switzerland Vocational Education and Training (VET) is the most popular form of education at upper-secondary level, with about 70% choosing the VET route?

This was followed by presentations from Rolls-Royce and Siemens on the value of apprenticeships for international employers.

Underlining the value of Leonardo Mobility

The afternoon was dedicated to four workshops; and I was grateful to be joined by an experienced Leonardo Mobility project promoter, Chris MacCormac of Morthyng Limited, in explaining the added value of offering apprentices European work experience funded through the Leonardo programme.

I was able to give the audience an overview of how apprenticeships and European mobility are increasingly important within the Lifelong Learning Programme, both at a European and UK level, whilst distributing copies of a paper written by Ecorys. The In Focus briefing paper was a recent outcome of the Thematic Networking Group on ‘Meeting Training and Skills Needs’ (TNG 3). A key finding of this paper ‘Strengthening the provision of training for UK apprentices through European projects’ is that Leonardo Mobility projects report the enormous impact European placements for apprentices has on improving skills vital to UK employers; and this was certainly echoed by Chris MacCormac who has been able to demonstrate (through tracking Mobility project results over the years) that success rates measured through progression and completions were greatly increased as a result of participation in a European work placement.

Delegates were particularly impressed with the impact of European Mobility on the attainment of functional skills, as the placements gave apprentices many naturally occurring instances to hone these skills, for example having to calculate sterling to euro improved mathematical abilities.

Getting ready to apply?

The deadline for submitting an application for a Leonardo Mobility project has just passed, but this means that the delegates have plenty of time to start identifying partners and planning their project ideas in advance of the February 2013 deadline. I look forward to following up on contacts made during the event. Hopefully I will see their project applications next year!

Tip! View our recent blog post on National Apprenticeship Week.

February 22, 2012 Leave a reply

Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

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