The European Apprentices Network (EAN) held its first 2018 meeting in Dublin on April 15-16. This was also the first meeting since the adoption of the Council Recommendation on a European Framework on Quality and Effective Apprenticeships – an important initiative that the EAN contributed to, through its work on identifying key priorities for quality apprenticeships, and its cooperation with the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA).
As a follow up to the Key Priorities paper launched in February 2018, in Dublin the EAN started discussing a first draft of a youth friendly version of the document, which aims to ensure that our message reaches out to young apprentices through a clear, accessible and understandable language. If the EAN wants to represent apprentices across Europe, then we must find better ways to make them understand what we are saying!
In Dublin, the EAN joined the rest of the EAfA members to take part in a panel discussion on “What can Europe do to support quality apprenticeships?”. This was an opportunity to raise an issue that is at the core of the work of the EAN: fair remuneration. In particular, Frederic, the EAN representative in the panel, highlighted that receiving a decent pay is not only a right but it is also essential for young people to become independent as individuals. Fair remuneration is a way for employers to recognise the added value that apprentices brings to the company: not paying apprentices means not investing in the development of your own workforce.
Other EAN members also intervened to support Frederic during the discussion, by sharing their own experiences and underlining how even in countries such as Germany, whose apprenticeship system is often presented as a perfect model, many apprentices have to do at least two jobs to earn enough to survive, or they end up quitting their placement due to not being paid enough.
If apprentices have to do more than one job to survive, chances are that they will not be able to focus on their apprenticeship or their studies: lack of decent pay can have a negative impact on different aspects of an apprentice’s life.
The EAN will continue to push employers and institutions at all levels to recognise and uphold apprentices’ right to fair remuneration, and hold them to account.