Since 2015, thanks to the impetus of MEP Jean Arthuis, a new European ambition is born: opening Europe to apprentices.

The issues at stake are now well-known: to tackle youth unemployment by making the apprenticeship a training path of excellence.

  • Apprenticeship succeeded in integrating young people with the professional world. Nevertheless, apprenticeship is slowing down in France and even in Germany, it is still underdeveloped or even missing in several European countries.
  • Apprenticeship programmes with an international coverage will put an end to the apprenticeship as a second choice by giving it the same assets than programmes organised by universities and prestigious schools.

In the follow-up of Jean Arthuis, professional training centres in Europe have moved. Among them, 36 training centres from 12 European countries, federated by the Compagnons du Devoir et du Tour de France, have built the Euro App’ consortium.

EURO APP’ sets the promises of an ERASMUS for apprentices

The Euro App’ professional training centres illustrate the apprenticeship training patchwork in Europe: there are 28 different apprenticeship systems in Europe. Nevertheless, the training centres share the same will: opening the doors of Europe to its students/apprentices.

The European Commission pilot project “A European framework for mobility of apprentices” gave them the opportunity to act. This pilot project, launched in 2016 and renewed in 2017, allowed training centres to obtain funding to experiment the mobility in apprenticeship in another European country during a period of 6 to 12 months. Euro App’, whose application was accepted by the European Commission, had the objective of 150 departures for the 2016 call for applications and almost 65 for the one of 2017.

For the time being, 80 young people followed their sandwich course in another European country during 6 to 12 months thanks to Euro App’. Other departures are still planned until the next school start. However, numerous objectives of the pilot project will not be reached. How to assess this experiment after two thirds of its existence?

  1. The apprentices are keen on discovering the world as much as the students; the apprentices from Euro App’ put an end to the alleged idea that only students from higher education can be trained abroad; the apprentices from Euro App’ mostly prepare professional qualifications under the level 6 of the European Qualifications Framework (for France: CAP, BAC PRO or Professional Certification).
  2. There are even more impediments to the long mobility for apprentices than the training centres believed. Not less than 60 drags have been discovered, from the absence of ERASMUS grants at the beginning to the illegality in some countries to welcome apprentices who do not follow 2 or 3 full years of training courses.
  3. Despite an unfavourable context, some employers took part in the experience, either to let their apprentices go or to welcome during one semester or school year a foreign apprentice.

Therefore the Euro App’ training centres, through the apprentices and the employers who followed, can be described as “explorers”. Should we become discouraged in front of so many obstacles? At the birth of Erasmus in 1987, there was a bit more than 3000 “pioneer” students. Today they are more than 300 000 per year!

There is room for hope. Moreover, the European Union and France are committed to an equal treatment between apprentices and students who aspire to go in Erasmus.

Lines are moving in order to open Erasmus to apprentices

The ERASMUS PRO programme: without even waiting for its assessment, the European Commission has decided to integrate Euro App’ within its programmes. It granted a budgetary envelope of EUR 400 million for grants called “Erasmus Pro” for 50 000 apprentices who would like to leave for more than 3 months in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

The will from the French government plays a big role: most of the proposals from Jean ARTHUIS, submitted to Muriel PENICAUD last January in order to lift the impediments to the mobility, are definitely adopted by the French Senate. They notably solve the issues related to the employer’s responsibility, the resources and the social cover of French apprentices in mobility and adapt the apprenticeship contract in order to enable the reception of foreign apprentices currently in training. 

... But there is still a lot to do

Other European countries, like France, have to undertake reforms in order to welcome or let their apprentices go in another EU member state... but their initiatives are waited. Some Euro App’ training centres feel very isolated and lowly supported by their national institutions to solve the various difficulties they are facing. Therefore the voice of Europe seems modest.

The recognition of the training abroad, in order to obtain the diploma in the country of origin, is almost paralysed:

The rise of Erasmus for students is correlated with the harmonisation of diplomas from higher education at the European level, which is a result of the “Bologna” process: each teaching unit is validated at the end of the semester and allows therefore the allocation of credits transferable in every European universities.

The European Commission launches a new « Sorbonne » process which aims at having a mutual recognition of degrees from secondary school and higher education at the European level around 2025. Nevertheless, the path to follow is still long and uncertain. The French training centres for apprentices are waiting for pragmatic measures from the government that would recognise the training sessions abroad with facilities equivalent to those benefitting to students. The future reform should take care of this task.

Jean ARTHUIS continues his fight for apprenticeship in Europe

With the support and the commitment of the President of the Republic, Jean ARTHUIS will continue to build the bases for apprenticeship in Europe during the upcoming months:

  • turn of European capitals, with a first stop in Sofia on 14 and 15 February. Objective: to convince the Member States that apprenticeship and mobility are powerful tools for tackling youth unemployment;
  • launch of a movement promoting the twinning between training centres for apprentices located in the different European countries. Objective: to create, through quality charters, the conditions for mutual recognition of skills acquired and diplomas;
  • the preparation of the next multiannual financial framework of the European Union, with two priorities:
    • the multiplication by three of Erasmus appropriations. Today, only one eligible demand out of two is satisfied due to a lack of appropriations.
    • the creation of a specific programme called “Professional training and apprenticeship” financed by the Cohesion funds (EDFR and ESF) in order to help countries which would like to reach an excellent level through structural reforms destined to tackle youth unemployment.

Nestlé supports the Euro App’ project

At Nestlé, the apprenticeship is considered as a path of excellence in order to train talents from tomorrow.

Nestlé launched the Alliance for Youth in 2014. It is a European partnership of 200 societies engaged in the training of young people under 30 years of age. While the set objective is 115 000 career opportunities in 3 years (hiring, apprenticeship or traineeship), the year 2016-2017 led to 90 000 opportunities.

In a context where young Europeans see the unemployment as the main challenge for the next 10 years, the apprenticeship is a win-win system according to Cécile Deleste, Director of the Nestlé Attraction of Talents Unit. She explains that “it is a path of excellence which is both at the service of the apprentice and the company. The former benefits from a full training and applies his knowledge in the professional world. This is obviously valuable for the society which will receive young people who already have a field experience and are very quickly operational.”

On 20 November, Nestlé France launched, in its undertaking of Vittel, a turn of France of its undertakings in order to meet its 600 apprentices. Next step: at the undertaking of Nesquik in Pontarlier on 12 March. In France, Nestlé committed to hire 325 young people under 30 years old and train 800 trainees or apprentices on average every year.


Please find the original press release here!

Contacts :

Assistant to Jean ARTHUIS
For the ERASMUS PRO project
+ 33 6 82 79 92 50

Vanessa DUVAL
Director for the international training
Les Compagnons du Devoir et du Tour de France
+ 33 6 29 02 58 34

In order to have more information on the Euro App’ pilot project: www.euroapp.eu