Improving European apprenticeship systems needs the involvement of VET teachers and trainers


On 14-17 April 2015, 38 Vocational Education and Training (VET) experts of ETUCE member organisations from 32 European countries met in Barcelona for a training entitled "Improving competences of VET teachers and trainers". This has been the 5th year that joint training seminar has been organised for national VET experts of teachers trade unions supported by European Trade Union Institute and by the financial assistance of the  European Commission.

The training focused on the main challenges for teachers and trainers to guarantee that quality is embarked in VET and apprenticeship systems. VET experts of teachers' trade unions from across Europe learnt and discussed how to build knowledge for students in work-based learning, upskill competences and to bargain on new conditions for teachers and trainers in VET.

European Trade Union Committee for Education, ETUCE  and many of its member organisations have pledged for the European Alliance for Apprenticeship (AOb, the Netherlands; GEW - Germany; LPSK and FLESTU, Lithuania; MUT, Malta ; NSZZ Solidarnosc, Poland ; NASUWT, The Teachers' Union, UK;  UNSA-Education, France)

ETUCE and pledger organsiations, such as NASUWT and AoB encouraged other member organisations to commit themselves to the goals of the European Alliance for Apprenticeship via adapting it to national situations, and sign pledges. Unions who have already signed a pledge agreed that it can be a tool to enhance actions and cooperation among social partners, and with governments and local authorities.

Martin Rømer, European Director of ETUCE, stressed the importance of continuous professional development for VET teachers and trainers. VET should be available for all learners, to this end, it should enjoy a better status and recognition by society. Investment and resources for initial training for VET teachers and in-company trainers, for continuous professional development of teachers and trainers must be secured, and it is high time for governments and companies to recognise this impelling need.

Sigve Bjorstad from the European Commission explained that countries with well-established VET systems managed to suffer the least from high unemployment rates and encouraged trade unions to commit to the goals of the European Alliance for Apprenticeship to improve work-based learning for VET students via improving teaching and training.

Maria Todorova, representative from the European Commission, underlined that VET teachers and trainers stand at the core of any successful VET and dual-education systems. She presented European Commission Guiding principles on professional development of trainers in vocational education and training (2014) .

The participants agreed that VET teachers and trainers have a central role in establishing relations with companies to secure apprenticeships for VET students, to develop central skills for the labour market and to provide students with competences and knowledge they need for the future.

The participants were invited by Nestlé to visit Nescafe and DolceGusto plant in Girona (Catalonia), where a successful dual education/apprenticeship system has been put in place in 2014. Nestlé company, which pledged for the European Alliance for Apprenticeship, has managed to build effective cooperation between VET schools and the factory, enabling for consistent and quality education and training paths for students and apprentices. Bart Vandewaetere, Head of Relations with European Institutions of Nestle Europe underlined that it is necessary to have a corporate responsibility for young people. Particio Perez from FECCOO, Spanish teachers' trade unions regretted that Nestle's training programme is a lone example in Spain.

Estelle Brentnall, representative of the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism (EFFAT), the trade union organisation which also committed to the Alliance, underlined that apprenticeship in the food sector could be improved with better cooperation between the sectoral unions and teachers unions.

Insufficient funding, development of skills only responding to contingent needs of the labour market, mistrust of the companies on the ability of schools to educate people and workers of tomorrow; are all paves the way for privatisation of education and training. "To face such challenges, teacher trade unions should be prepared to work in a cooperative way with companies and employers. Only through a stronger cooperation between social partners, governments, companies and all the sectors involved quality VET and apprenticeships could be delivered", concluded Martin Rømer, ETUCE European Director.

Pictures of the seminar