An event in Brussels to launch the European Pact for Youth highlighted the important role apprenticeships play in tackling youth unemployment.
European employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility Commissioner Marianne Thyssen, pointed out that, "economic recovery in Europe is getting back on track and unemployment is slowly decreasing, but we can't relax our efforts. With 4.5 million young people looking for work, youth unemployment remains one of the most pressing challenges in the EU today."
She was pleased that, "together with the pledges made in Riga in June to make 140,000 apprenticeships available to young people through the European alliance for apprenticeship, we are making real progress." She pointed out that, "over the last year, youth unemployment has decreased by 500,000."
While apprenticeships are crucial to improving young people's employability, Solvay CEO Jean-Pierre Clamadieu said, "unfortunately in some countries, [they] have not yet found their full potential."
A panel of industry leaders and students currently undertaking apprenticeships was on hand to highlight the key role of combining practical work experience with education. Anja Goebels, an apprentice at NMC, explained that her studies, "were comprised of 50 per cent study and 50 per cent work. After completing my three years of university, I was offered a job at the company."
Sylvain Heuschen, also working for NMC, said such schemes, "help students and companies get to know each other and help smooth the transition from training to work". He added that they were "far more efficient - I have a Master's degree, but when I started working, I did not understand simple business processes."
Dimitri Papalexopoulos, CEO of Titan Cement, stressed that apprenticeships are, "not about money - they are about providing time and mentors", while Gérard Mestrallet, CEO of Engie, said, "apprenticeships must become the norm rather than the exception."
Johanna Nyman, President of the European Youth Forum, called on policymakers to ensure young people are afforded, "quality internships and apprenticeships. Unfortunately, far too many of these are poorly paid and have no clear learning plan. Despite this, they are beneficial to young people and also to businesses."