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Contradictions for developing apprenticeship in south Europe

January 26th, 2018 by Graham Attwell

A recent report from the Hans-Böcklerhelmet-1636348_1920-Stiftung, Let’s Transform Work! by Kerstin Jürgens, Reiner Hoffmann and Christina Schildmann, says that in 2016, in Germany, “for the first time, there were more young people in the dual vocational training system that held the upper secondary school certificate (Abitur) than those with the lower secondary school leaving certificate (Hauptschulabschluss). At the same time, many young people leave school without any qualifications at all. In 2014, this was true of 47,000 youngsters (Caritas 2016 ), which equates to a share of almost 6 per cent. The share is even higher when it comes to vocational qualifications.”

The report says the dual vocational training system  is valued internationally as an instrument
for preventing youth unemployment through strengthening companies’ innovative capacities and forging close links between the education and training system and the labour market, Thus.ensuring a successful transition from training into the labour market. However, while there are
no formal barriers to entry into the dual system,access for young people without a school certificate
or with only a lower secondary school certificate is difficult.

I’ve not had time yet to read the full report (which is 256 pages long!). But it seems to raise some issues for the growing move towards apprenticeship in countries in south Europe, and the European Commission policy of expanding apprenticeship as a measure against youth unemployment.

Spain, where despite much heralded improvements in the economy youth unemployment is still around 37 per cent, is attempting to develop a new apprenticeship system called FP Dual. This is against a background where employers have no real culture of being involved in vocational training and the traditionally school based vocational education and training system has low prestige as opposed to higher education. Yet, according to Sara Gutiérrez from the education section of the UGT trade union and who is concerned that apprentices will be used as cheap labour (see El Diario de la Education), in sectors such as Hospitality and Chemical Laboratories, graduates are increasingly following a FP Dual programme. In a situation with high graduate unemployment and with mainly large companies offering FP Dual it is not hard to see apprenticeship becoming an increasingly attractive post graduate pathway to the labour market. This could be very good news for the credibility and prestige of FP Dual and increase its attractiveness to employers. Yet it also suggests that the 20 or so per cent of early school leavers and the many young people lacking vocational qualifications are like to be excluded from access to apprenticeships. It is hard to see how this contradiction can be overcome, at least in the short term.

 

4 Responses to “Contradictions for developing apprenticeship in south Europe”

  1. josé luis garcía molina says:

    Hi, Graham, I appreciate a lot your comments on the trends we can notice on the “apprenticeship-alternance” current developments in Europe well summarized in the expression “Vocational Training under pressure to change” and the indicative note of page 81 “In 2016 for the first time there were more young people in the dual vocational training system that held the upper secondary school certificate” (in Let’s Transform Work! Report). You use the word “contradictions for developing apprenticeship in south Europe”, more incisive than otherwise said, “cultural barriers” , a softer way to refer at this situation. “Contradictions” refer surely to LMreforms, on the one side, and the so-called Educational Pact , on the other, very prominent in the Spanish political secenario one/two years ago and reappearing now as central political issues, with “new” views and new demands. I see it in mnany European countries (France, v.g., among them).

    I think Graham we must come back to concrete realities such as they were approached in the mini-research on Apprentceship in Valencia Autonomous Community without losing this complex horizon in which we are living.
    Please Graham accept this first and general reaction to your text.

  2. Graham Attwell says:

    Thanks for your reply Jose. The contradiction I refer to is the need to increase the prestige of vocational education and training in general and apprenticeship in particular (which is helped by the increasing attractiveness of apprenticeship to graduates) and the policy priority of opening up participation in VET to unemployed young people (often, in Spain, early school leavers) with few qualifications.

  3. josé luis garcía molina says:

    Yes Graham VET prestige and/or atractiveness have always been a professed objective in VET policies, in a particular way since the 90s, when formal alternance model, thorugh the FCT module, was introduced in Ed. System and CVET agreements were approuved giving rise to the so-called National Vocational Qualifications System with its Qualifications Framework ( in Spanish, Catálogo Nacional de Cualificaciones Profesionales). Indicative of the situation at the beginnings of 2000 can be the following text of the Commerce Chambers (very active in those years) “It is not longer possible to speak of diferent, unrelated training systems. Rather, the time has come to consider an integrated and flexible training system which responds to demands at any given time” (Book of Training 2000, Commerce Chambers, Civitas 2000, p. 230, Ten proposals for change.)
    The architecture of the National System of Vocational Qualifications was passed in 2002 (with minor but meaningful amendments since then), and a period of construction began well accepted by managers, teachers, trainers and practitionners up to the irruption of crisis.
    Where are we? I have placed the “contradictions” at political levels, agreeing whith your remarks, more social and let’s say deep…

  4. josé luis garcía molina says:

    A short note on a conclusion of WEF (nihil novum sub sole) in the September Repor it is said: “the main problem of Spain is not precisely the formal education – high levels- but in the lack of development on-the-job (¿on-the job-training and/o learning?) (El País, 28.01.18,Negocios, 5.) I will write later….

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