The European programme Erasmus is celebrating its 30 years of existence. Last year, it enabled 43 000 students to spend a part of their academic studies in one of the countries of the European Union.

The Member of the European Parliament Jean Arthuis wants that young people in dual education system also benefit from Erasmus because they are too few for the moment.

MEP since 2014, the former minister Jean Arthuis is known in the Hemicycle of Strasbourg as a budgetary issues expert. He is also a strong defender of apprenticeship. This week again, while it was a plenary session week, he took the time to talk about it in a working-class area of the Alsatian capital following an invitation from the House of Europe.

“To get inspired by successful examples”

“Countries like Germany, which have a long-standing tradition of apprenticeship, have very few unemployed young people”, he said in front of the auditorium gathered in a function room, near Neudorf, in the south of the city. “Moreover, the Erasmus programme proved its successes over the years. Well, why not pair up both with the inspiration of successful examples?”
Amaury, 26, confirms. 18 months ago, this young from Strasbourg took the plunge and met an entrepreneur on the other side of the border, in Kehl, Germany. “When I went to the interview, I learnt four sentences in German by heart. That’s all what I knew... The enterprise gave me a chance, it started by financing an intensive language course.” 18 months later, he is bilingual and continues his training, still motivated.

To leave at least six months

Too few apprentices benefit from the European programme favouring mobility. Last year, they were only 6 800 students in dual education system out of a total of 43 000 French students that lived this experience abroad. “And yet, for a short period, like two or three weeks, while at least 6 months are needed in order to have a true immersion, to go out of the comfort zone”, says Jean Arthuis.

With the Compagnons du devoir

A paradox, while apprenticeship is considered as a springboard for employment. The MEP from the Grand Ouest managed to get the authorisation from the European Commission to launch a pilot project which concerns various training and apprenticeship centres, under the lead of the Compagnons du Devoir, “because they have the DNA of mobility, of the openness to the world.”

In the French draft bill

The idea is gaining ground. Even more since the French-German Council in 2017, during which the leaders of both countries admitted there was a disequilibrium between students and apprentices in the Erasmus grants. Since then, Jean Arthuis has been asked by the French Minister of Labour Muriel Pénicaud to submit a report in order to develop Erasmus Pro. His advices will be displayed in the draft bill reforming professional training and apprenticeship which will be voted soon by the French legislator.

The President Emmanuel Macron wants to bring the number of French apprentices benefitting from the programme to 15 000 by the end of his mandate. “A dynamic is triggered”, claims Jean Arthuis.

From the Europe side, only one demand out of two is satisfied when students submit their Erasmus file due to the lack of budgetary resources. “It will be necessary to increase the means, by tripling the current appropriations.” In 2018, the budget destined to Erasmus will reach €2.3 billion.

(Remarks collected by Oust-France)