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Theme 5: Understanding the EU Automotive Apprenticeship Offer

Based on research undertaken as part of the DRIVES project it is clear that within individual European nations, skills provision serving the automotive sector can be characterised by a complicated mix of colleges, universities, private providers and employers’ own training which can be particularly confusing for employers and potential trainees alike. Understanding and comparing different apprenticeship offers across different EU countries is currently a significantly more difficult challenge.

There are a wide range of different apprenticeship models adopted across Europe and also differences in understanding of what an apprenticeship actually is.  

CEDEFOP has undertaken a wide range of research identifying different approaches towards apprenticeships and different apprenticeship models across Europe. This includes a major cross nation review published in 2018 that established a framework for categorising different apprenticeship approaches by country [1].

The study explores different apprenticeship definitions used in different countries and identifies the changes that apprenticeships are undergoing in practice in order to highlight the different functions and purposes that apprenticeship policies fulfil in different countries. As a reference point for this analysis the study uses the following definition of apprenticeships:

‘Systematic, long-term training alternating periods at the workplace and in an education institution or training centre. The apprentice is contractually linked to the employer and receives remuneration (wage or allowance). The employer assumes responsibility for providing the trainee with training leading to a specific occupation’ [2].

The analysis indicates that there are wide variations across countries not only in terms of overall apprenticeship models adopted, but in terms of patterns of school-company alternation, typical duration of apprenticeships, volume of in-company training per year,   requirements placed on both employers and wider labour market stakeholders and age and educational level eligibility criteria.   

There are also significant differences in the overall apprenticeship offer, funding mechanisms, quality assurance procedures, overall governance arrangements and uptake.  

Since this date further apprenticeship country comparison work has been undertaken by CEDEFOP which can be accessed through Cedefop European database on apprenticeship schemes [3].

The recently adopted European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships (EFQEA) recommendations provides a more detailed accepted framework against which the current automotive Apprenticeship market place within selected countries can be benchmarked. There are 14 recommendations that have been adopted that form a standardised criterion for both learning and working conditions and framework conditions. As part of the DRIVES Project this benchmarking process has been applied to 6 key EU automotive countries selected to highlight divergences in approach to apprenticeships, these being Sweden, Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Germany and the UK. These countries were selected in order to represent different approaches to apprenticeships and also to reflect a range of differing sizes in terms of automotive sector employment.  The results of this assessment are summarised in the diagram below [4].

Figure 1: Benchmarking the apprenticeship systems from six different countries

The assessment is based on available evidence and points to generally higher scores in Germany and the UK reflecting the relatively formalised apprenticeship infrastructures in both countries and somewhat lower scores in the Czech Republic, Spain and Sweden. However, it should be noted these assessments should only be treated as a guide, given the current difficulties involved in the assessment process based on information available.   

In order to enable comparison of relevant automotive related apprenticeships in different European countries in one place for use by both employers and individuals, DRIVES is developing an Automotove Apprenticesip Comparsion Tool. Specifically for the automotive sector, for each relevant apprenticeship this will provide information on: 

  • What the apprenticeship involves and the job role(s) it relates to
  • Qualifications gained on completion 
  • EQF Level 
  • Duration of the programme
  • Funding information
  • Knowledge, skills and behaviours covered by the apprenticeship programme

Comparions of the offer in the countries covered will be possible using a number of the above criteria. The tool has been designed to supplement more general information collected by CEDEFOP and provide a practical tool for employers and individuals in the automotive sector to help engagement in the apprenticeship processs. To date, information collected for the Tool cover relevant automotive releted Apprenticeships in Spain, Portugal, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany and the different UK nations. 

The tool will be launched later in 2021.

[1, 2] Apprenticeship Schemes in European countries – A cross-nation Review – CEDEFOP 2018​​​
[4] D5.2 Understanding the Marketplace - Key Issues Report; DRIVES, Mick FELOY (SEMTA - Trading as ENGINUITY), Georg MACHER (TUG), July 2020
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