Work-based learning in vocational education is an increasing priority among the ETF partner countries, as in the European Union, to improve skills and employability, and enhance economic competitiveness and social inclusion.
Work-based learning can be a win-win-win situation providing benefits for all major stakeholders involved – the learner, the employer, and society. The ETF is supporting employers, social partners, and other relevant stakeholders to increase participation in vocational education and training system governance to adjust training programmes to meet the requirements of twenty-first century labour markets.
The ETF has also produced tools and handbooks, including in the area of financing, that help policymakers and social partners to develop and implement work-based learning. Work-based learning programmes are relevant for all levels of vocational education and training – initial, post-secondary and continuing vocational education and training. They can be implemented in any sector, from industry to services and agriculture, and are particularly relevant in sectors experiencing rapid structural and technological changes, or where the infrastructure of schools does not allow for proper practical training.
Apprenticeships, as a major type of work-based learning, have an important role for tackling youth unemployment through ‘earning while learning’ contracts. Many partner countries have started to implement pilot projects or structural reform on apprenticeship/dual education, with the support of the ETF. Assistance is also provided to the five EU candidate countries through their membership of the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA). Managed by the European Commission, the alliance promotes the quality, supply, image and mobility of apprenticeship and work-based learning. It is a platform for companies, chambers of commerce, practitioners and other social partners to work together with the Commission and national governments.