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EU makes significant reorientation towards apprenticeships !

Since Emmanuel Macron’s election victory, it is noticeable that not only France or even Germany are on the forefront of an incentive and visionary policy towards strengthening apprenticeship. It looks like european politicians want to tip funding and attention away from higher education and back towards vocational education and training (VET). Enthusiasm for vocational training could be a reaction to the enormous expansion of universities which growth had reached a point where it could not continue with their traditional missions. There is a need for further differentiation in the system to blur the boundaries between higher education and VET. Since 2013 in Germany, there have been concerns that higher education is chipping away at the traditionally very strong vocational system: some people coined the term Akademisierungswahn – loosely translated as academic delusion – to attack a supposed excessive focus on higher education. In Germany, it is no longer the case that the apprenticeship system is attractive enough to compete with higher education and for the first time in German history, there were more students than apprentices and some apprenticeship positions have gone unfilled. Meanwhile in the UK, the government renewed its commitment to « ensuring people have the skills they need for the high-skilled, high-wage jobs of the future ». According to Anne Milton, the UK’s new minister for apprenticeships and skills, apprenticeships will remain central to Britain’s skills strategy and the focus will be on diversifying the skills economy by creating three million high-quality apprenticeships by 2020. But it will only be successful as far as economic growth and competitivity are concerned, if better partnerships are formed with industry and if quality is improved. In France, vocational education is now one of the top priority of the current government. Many French degrees had a low labour market value while VET was “underdeveloped” at upper secondary level – all explaining strong French support for more vocational spending. Designing apprenticeships courses in partnership with industry will pay dividends but in order to achieve this new apprenticeships revolution, collaboration between government, businesses and education organisations will be vital. Read more…

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