Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, commented: "Evidence has shown that long-term mobility experiences improve social, job-specific and language skills – much more than short-term stays abroad. Contrary to university students participating in year-long programmes like Erasmus, however, the vast majority of Vocational Education and Training learners tend to go abroad for rather short periods. This is why we are creating more long-term opportunities, which will ultimately increase their chances on the job market. With these pilot projects and our new ErasmusPro initiative, we expect to mobilise up to 50,000 long-term mobility opportunities for VET learners by 2020."
Already today, around 650,000 vocational education and training (VET) learners and graduates can benefit from Erasmus+ funding to support their mobility experiences of 2 weeks to 12 months abroad. Despite the benefits of long-term placements, however, less than 1% of them stays abroad for more than 6 months. The pilot-projects launched this year will therefore offer 238 apprentices a position in another EU country for a period from 6 to 12 months, to identify good practices and bottlenecks with longer-term apprenticeships abroad. These 238 placements come in addition to the 100 apprentices currently involved in similar projects financed by the Commission in 2016. As part of the Commission's overall effort to improve the long-term mobility of vocational education and training (VET) learners, in December 2016 the Commission also proposed ErasmusPro initiative which will become operational in 2018 and which will allow an additional 50,000 young people to spend between 3 and 12 months in another Member State.
Both the pilot projects and ErasmusPro are the first steps towards a European framework for the long-term mobility of apprentices. This will provide concrete guidance for Member States to give young people the chance to develop their skills and enhance their employability, while strengthening their sense of European citizenship through experience in another EU country.
The Commission has already given a lot of support for the mobility for Vocational Education and Training (VET) learners. Under the Erasmus+ programme, for example, around 650,000 VET learners and recent VET graduates will benefit from funding to support their mobility experiences abroad. These range from a period of 2 weeks to 12 months.
However, the Commission aims to strengthen opportunities for more long-term mobility and therefore more in-depth experiences for VET learners and apprentices, to help them carry out a more substantial part of their training in another European country.
The pre-financing of pilot projects is an example of this in practice. So far, the Commission has launched two calls for pilot proposals (in 2016 and 2017). 9 projects have been awarded grants. This year's projects are being led by six Member States (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Italy and Spain); although 21 Member States are involved in the partnerships. The projects offer apprenticeships in a broad range of professions and sectors, such as tourism, catering, health care, trade and logistics, IT, marketing, construction, manufacturing (metal, electronics,…) and agriculture. The professional, personal and social experience gained while living and working abroad will complement and enrich the apprentice's studies at "home".
The seven pilot projects for 2017 aim to:
- Evaluate the demand and capacity for long-term transnational apprentice mobility schemes;
- Identify bottlenecks for long-duration mobility
- Identify and disseminate good practices and success factors for long-term work placements for apprentices.
The 2017 projects will run until end 2018 – early 2019.
The aim of improving the long-term mobility for VET learners is also why the Commission has proposed 'ErasmusPro' in December 2016 as part of the Erasmus+ programme, especially designed to support long-term placements of VET learners abroad. ErasmusPro will become operational in 2018 and open up the possibility for an additional 50,000 young people to spend between 3 and 12 months in another Member State.