Vocational Education and Training to counter Social Exclusion – Stakeholder meeting report

On Friday 22nd November 2013, the Representation of the State of Hessen to the EU hosted a SIRIUS stakeholderLogo Hessen meeting organised by MPG on vocational education and training to counter social exclusion.  This meeting gathered European, national and local stakeholders working in the field of migration and (vocational) education and training to exchange best practices and consider what policies could be implemented to improve the professional and social inclusion of young people with a migrant background across Europe today.

Barriers to access and successful participation of VET

1)      Language: This may be one of the main barriers to VET, especially for newly arrived migrants. However, according to research on school performance, language, together with school grades, are always controlled for and do not significantly influence access or successful participation for young migrants.

2)      Aspirations: Immigrant parents wish for improved social upward mobility for their children meaning that they generally send them to university. In countries where VET is seen as a second choice, such as in Belgium, young immigrants are overrepresented.

3)      Information deficit regarding VET opportunities: How to access VET? Why is it beneficial? Difficulties in finding answers to these questions, and a lack of contacts due to reduced social networks result in less people with an immigrant background applying for VET.

4)      Discrimination: Although there is a lack of robust research on how discrimination affects education, there is information on how it affects the labour market. From this, we can deduce that it is likely to play a role in SMEs.

5)      Structural factors: Deindustrialized areas with fewer jobs in general, are likely to have fewer apprenticeships available.

Information exchange needs to take place to tackle information deficit and influence aspirational choices, for example through information campaigns, job orientation in schools, early internships targeted at migrants and mentoring projects that include parents. Tackling discrimination can be achieved by employing intermediary agencies to aid placement of apprentices, awareness campaigns, mentoring and anonymous applications.

European instruments

The Commission plans to tackle youth unemployment through education in particular. The European Alliance of Apprenticeships aims to aid the transfer of knowledge regarding apprenticeships, such as the identification and sharing of best practices. This is being carried out with the help of Eurochambers who are encouraging national chambers of commerce to partake in this initiative. The Alliance also promotes the benefits of apprenticeships in general and aims to change the mindset of people regarding VET. Stakeholders are being directly asked to make pledges on this issue on the Alliance website, and these will then be promoted through the Alliance.

Additional instruments include:

  • Erasmus+ programme will focus more on apprenticeships – mobility in particular – with the objective of having 6% of VET students mobile by 2020.
  • Youth Guarantee Implementation Plans are currently being developed by Member States in order to set up the Youth Guarantee scheme which aims to offer a good-quality job, apprenticeship, traineeship or education to anyone under the age of 25. The Youth Employment Initiative has gathered €6billion to implement the Youth Guarantee.
  • The European Social Fund has a helpdesk which gives advice on how to use funding for apprenticeship schemes.

The Commission thinks that it is important to bring more attention to the access barriers to apprenticeships currently facing young people with a migrant background. Public employment agencies need to diversify and consider immigrant NGOs and communities as partners. Business chambers need to represent all the self-employed, including migrant entrepreneurs.  Best practices should be gathered in order to give incentives to any countries not yet dealing with this issue.

Examples of good practices given during the meeting include the following:

Focus on migrant-run SMEs:

Small migrant-run enterprises need to have someone going to them directly and encouraging them to offer apprenticeships. Chambers of Commerce are a good source of funding for this.

  • For example, the Chamber of Skilled Crafts Frankfurt-Rhein-Main runs a project wherein it contacts SMEs in Frankfurt, particularly migrant-run companies, in order to include them in the dual-training system that is so well-established in Germany. They visit each company individually in order to establish whether or not they have training positions available, and if not, they explain the benefits of offering apprenticeships, thus encouraging many to sign up. At the same time, parents are also informed of how the system works and the benefits of training in skilled craftsmanship.
  • Since 2007, the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, together with the Public Employment Service and the Vienna Employee Promotion Fund offer “Professional advice for ethnic economies”. There are over 100,000 companies in Vienna with active licenses, of which approximately one third are migrant companies. They are motivated to participate, get help training their staff and are supported in the creation of new and additional apprenticeships. Having native speakers (from a Turkish, ex-Yugoslavian or Polish background in particular) on the project team is very important in tackling the information deficit surrounding this issue, as well as utilising pre-established networks.

Raise the appeal of VET:

A positive spin needs to be given to VET, focusing on innovation and competitiveness.

  • The Emilia-Romagna region in Italy has reformed its dual education system since 2011. Due to the large amount of industry in the region, only 15% of students go to university, with the rest taking part in VET and industry directly. Schools and enterprises work closely together in order for students to see direct links between school and employment, and enterprise has played an important role in the reformation of the education system. The large migrant population in the region is appreciated for its language abilities and discrimination is rare in schools.
  • The Jobstarter KAUSA training coordination office for self-employed workers from a migrant background, run by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, aims to improve participation in VET and create additional training positions all around Germany. Currently there are a higher number of positions than candidates, and the matching programme sometimes has difficulties matching desired positions to actual offers. However, the expansion of KAUSA offices around Germany in 2014 should help. 2014 will also see regional Youth Fora taking place to promote VET and job opportunities to young people and their parents. The KAUSA Media Prize is a high-level campaign that awards young journalists who contribute to differentiated reporting on the various education and training paths of migrants in Germany.
  • European-Turkish Business Confederation – UNITEE aims to show new Europeans the advantages of VET. They tackle the stigmatization around VET and promote it as a positive option that allows young people to be more successful on the current labour market. VET needs to be made more alluring, and perhaps linking it to a job guarantee or entrepreneurships might be one way of doing this. They support the idea of entrepreneurship education in schools and the importance of cooperation with civil society, especially businesses.
  • OBESSU has launched a campaign entitledRaise your voice! Stand up for VET!’ in order to raise awareness of VET in Europe amongst students themselves.

Vocational training as an integral part of vocational education:

  • In The Netherlands, although vocational training is a necessary requirement to finish vocational education, undocumented minors were not allowed to do apprenticeships as they did not have permission to work. Fischer Advocaten – Sociaal economische mensenrechten took this issue to court on behalf of a young person from Surinam in order for him to finish his education completely. Supported by Article 2 of the first protocol of the European convention, every child has a right to education, they won the case. Since May 2012, all undocumented students under the age of 18 are allowed to carry out work experience if it is part of their education. Undocumented migrants over the age of 18 however are still fighting for this right.

Involve parents in schooling:

  • A Finnish member organisation of Confederation of Family Organisations in the EU focuses on practices that enhance school-home communication in order to best inform parents about the choices available to their children within the education system. Group leaders speaking different languages are trained to be able to inform other parents regarding schooling options.


Apart from focussing on migrant SMEs, raising the appeal of VETs, facilitating training to undocumented migrants and including parents more in schooling, the following recommendations should be taken into account:

  • The link between stakeholders and practitioners should be strengthened. Civil society, including youth organisations and immigrant organisations, should be considered as strategic partners rather than being just policy targets. Both youth and immigrant organisations can offer extracurricular support activities that give young people experience. Peer to peer learning through mentoring should be supported.
  • Government, businesses, Chambers of Commerce etc. need to cooperate to find a solution for the mismatch of jobs and skills that increase youth unemployment.
  • Resident status constitutes another layer of discrimination which restricts undocumented migrants’ access to VET. This issue must be tackled.
  • Entrepreneurship education needs to be offered from an early age in schools. There are over 260 apprenticeship trades in Germany, for example, and yet everyone always applies to the same 5 or 6. Girls and boys need to be informed that all paths are opened to them, and their parents also need to be given information on VET options.
  • Local and regional authorities need to support migrant organisations and help highlight their positive contribution.
  • Further research needs to be carried out to facilitate statistics regarding the numbers of young children with a migrant background that transition into and drop out of VET.
Adem Kumcu, President of UNITEE
Oliver Diehl, German Federal Minstry of Education and Research



SIRIUS Stakeholder meeting: Vocational Education and Training to counter Social Exclusion – Brussels – 22 November 2013

Logo HessenDate: 22 November 2013

Place: Representation of the State of Hessen to the EU, Rue Montoyer 21, 1000 Brussels

Time: 11:00 – 13:30, followed by lunch

In light of the recent creation of the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, SIRIUS is holding a stakeholder meeting to discuss the topic of Vocational Education and Training (VET) for immigrants at a European level.

VET is under the European Commission DG Education and Culture and presents some key priority areas of which equity and social cohesion is one. The aim of this area is to ensure non-discriminatory access to and participation in VET, taking into account the needs of people or groups at risk of exclusion — in particular early school leavers, low-skilled and disadvantaged people (e.g. immigrants).

The event will bring together stakeholders working in the field of migration and (vocational) education and training to exchange information on how to improve the access to and successful completion of apprenticeships by young people with a migrant background in policy and practice.  It will also consider how vocational education and training can be used to improve the professional and social inclusion of young people with a migrant background.

Download Programme

Download Discussion Paper

Download information on EU Alliance for Apprenticeships

Contact scodowd@migpolgroup.com to register.

UK: Tougher apprenticeships planned to cut unemployment

Training schemes for school-leavers will be toughened up with new industry standards under proposals designed to make British apprenticeships the best in the world, according to David Cameron.

In a series of changes, he will announce that future apprentices will need to demonstrate competence through more rigorous academic assessments, including increased English and maths requirements.

Apprenticeships will be at least a year long and will be graded on a three-point scale – pass, merit and distinction – to put them more on par with other qualifications, it is revealed.

Further reforms will also be introduced to ensure at least 20 per cent of an apprentice’s time is spent in specific “off-the-job” training away from their usual workstation.

The changes come as part of a move to put employers directly in the driving seat of apprenticeship programmes and base future courses on newly-drawn up industry standards.

Speaking at the Mini factory in Oxfordshire on Monday, Mr Cameron will also announce that rising numbers of top companies are pledging to offer more vocational training schemes. This includes Accenture, BAE Systems, Barclays, BT, Diageo, HSBC, M&S, National Grid, Tesco and Unilever.

In all, 100,000 additional training places will be offered over the next two years, he will say.

“I said earlier this month that I want us to deal with the scourge of youth unemployment by giving young people more chances and choices in life,” he says.

“This goes to the heart of my vision for this country: backing hard working people who want to get on in life and making sure Britain competes and thrives in the global race.”

He adds: “The reforms we’re announcing today will put employers in the driving seat and ensure that we deliver high quality training that supports you and our economy for years to come.

“And as the range of companies signed up today shows, these are apprenticeships in different industries and sectors meaning people have a real choice about the career they want and our economy is balanced.”

The comments come amid a surge in the number of school leavers considering apprenticeship schemes particularly after a sharp hike in university tuition fees.

Previous figures have shown that the average apprenticeship post now receives 11 applications each.

In some industry sectors, such as plumbing and events management, the number rises well above 30.

Many leading companies are now said to be competing directly with universities to recruit the most able young people.

Via Telegraph 

European Alliance for Apprenticeships launch

EU-flagThe launch of the European Alliance for Apprenticeships took place on 2nd July 2013, and has been created in order to help to fight youth unemployment by improving the quality and supply of apprenticeships across the EU through a broad partnership of key employment and education stakeholders. It also seeks to change attitudes to apprenticeships. It will in particular identify the most successful apprenticeship schemes in the EU and apply appropriate solutions in each Member State.

The Alliance is supported by the first-ever joint Declaration by the European Commission, the Presidency of the EU’s Council of Ministers and European level trade union and employer organisations (the European Trade Union Confederation – ETUCBusinessEurope, the European Centre of Employers and Enterprises providing Public services – CEEP and the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises – UEAPME). The Alliance promotes measures which will be supported by the European Social Fund, the Youth Employment Initiative and Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, training and youth.

“We call on all stakeholders to join the European Alliance for Apprenticeships and contribute to more and better apprenticeships in Europe,” said the Commissioners in a joint statement. “Apprenticeships can play a crucial role in tackling youth unemployment by giving young people the skills and experience sought by employers.”

Countries with strong vocational education and training (VET) systems, such as Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands and Austria, tend to have less youth unemployment. The Commission confirms this analysis in the latest European Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review which indicates that apprenticeships and traineeships are often a stepping stone to a permanent job (see IP/13/601). This is why apprenticeships are a key element of the Youth Guarantee, proposed by the Commission as part of the Youth Employment Package in December 2012 (see IP/12/1311 and MEMO/12/938) and adopted by the Council in April 2013.

“We need to pull together and act now to ensure that our young people get the skills they need to succeed in their personal and professional lives,” said Commissioner Vassiliou. “Given the unacceptable levels of youth unemployment there is an urgent need for those responsible for education and employment to work together to facilitate the transition of young Europeans from school to the world of work”, added Commissioner Andor.

The Alliance will support national reforms seeking to set up or strengthen apprenticeship schemes. The Commission invites all potential partners to join the Alliance: public authorities, businesses, trade unions, chambers of commerce, providers of vocational education and training, youth representatives and employment services. It is encouraging them to make firm commitments on boosting public and private funding for apprenticeship-type schemes.

By signing the joint Declaration, the European representatives of trade unions and employers have committed to focus their efforts in the next six months to:

  1. raise awareness of the benefits of apprenticeships to employers and to young people
  2. spread experience and good practice in their own organisations
  3. motivate and advise their member organisations on developing quality apprenticeships attuned to the skills needs of the labour market.

They will also encourage their members to:

  1. cooperate with schools and employment services
  2. support training of in-company mentors and coaching of apprentices
  3. increase the supply and quality of apprenticeships

The Commission has committed to:

  1. promote peer learning/review to support policy reform in Member States, in particular those with VET-related country-specific recommendations
  2. ensure the best use of EU funds to contribute to the objectives of the Alliance (support systems-level development, learning content and mobility of apprentices and staff)
  3. explore the inclusion of apprenticeships in the EURES network, in close cooperation with relevant stakeholders
  4. invite Eurochambres and other relevant stakeholders to pledge measures contributing to concrete delivery of the Alliance.

Johanna Wanka, German Federal Minister for Education and Research, and Algimanta Pabedinskienė, Lithuanian Minister of Social Security and Labour, for the EU Presidency, also took part in the launch. The European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT), which represents 50 multinational companies employing 7 million people, backs the Alliance with a network of business ‘ambassadors’. Franco Bernabè, Chairman and CEO of Telecom Italia, said: “We fully support this Alliance. We must all work together in new ways to change attitudes and create more and better apprenticeships.”

The European Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Eurochambres) plans to foster partnerships based on ones which their members have already signed up to in Germany, Spain, Austria, Romania and Hungary. The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber is also running projects in Romania and Slovakia to set up a dual apprenticeship system, combining learning in public VET schools with experience in enterprises.


The Commission’s plan to launch a European Alliance for Apprenticeships was announced as part of its Rethinking Education initiative (see IP/12/1233) and Youth Employment Package (see IP/12/1311 and MEMO/12/938). The European Council of 7-8 February 2013 invited the Commission to establish the Alliance as part of measures to tackle youth unemployment. It is also a key element of the Commission’s 19th June Communication onWorking together for Europe’s young people.

The 27-28 June 2013 European Council Conclusions referred to the promotion of high quality apprenticeships and work-based learning, notably through the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, as a key element of supporting youth employment.

The European Alliance for Apprenticeships is launched as part of the World Skills Competition.

Via Europa.eu

See the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training  publications on: