Apprentice voice is loud and clear! A recap of our latest event in Barcelona by Uliana Musakina, EAN member

This week European Apprentice Network had the pleasure to participate in the event “The voice of apprentices” dedicated to the Year of Youth of 2022.

The event took place in beautiful city of Barcelona and had guests and speakers from different organisations all over Europe. 

The Network assembled a day before the event itself for teambuilding, rehearsals and general discussion prior the event. This was very much needed after two long years of the pandemic that took away every opportunity of live meeting from the international network. 

The briefing meeting allowed old and new members of the network understand each other better and work as a team during the event.

“The voice of apprentices in the European Year of Youth  2022”-event itself started on 24th of March at the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, the World Heritage Site by UNESCO and consisted of introductions, panel discussions, parallel workshops and single speeches.

The event was focused on apprentices’ mental health, fair pay and work, study, and life healthy balance. Throughout the discussions, national organisations’ delegates and apprentices shared their personal experiences and practical training systems of their country to compare with others and find the best practices involving apprentices. 

The workshops that took place later in the day had the purpose of bringing people in smaller groups closer together and encourage active discussions on given topics and find possible solutions as well as detecting priorities in one or another part in apprentices’ journey.

The workshop I participated in was called “Embedding the voice of apprentices in decision-making”. This topic is indeed one ofthe most important ones when talking about apprenticeship, or any decision making about a specific group of people, in this case apprentices, for that matter. 

After hearing many great ideas and points of view the participants decided that the main way to make apprentices’ voices heard is to engage a conversation, to ask people in practice and do research. Yes, this seems like an obvious answer, but in reality is often overlooked. In addition to that, another action, that should mobilize the apprenticeship in self advocacy, is making them feel important. That can be achieved through representation in social media, throughout middle and high school, active work between establishment alumni and current students and in general collective efforts in breaking the stigma of vocational education and apprenticeship being a lesser option than other forms of learning.

Additionally, during the event the renewed European Apprentice network was officially launched and the calls are now available here.

The second day was dedicated to the visit of vocational schools in Barcelona – Institut Bonanova and Institut Escola del Treball. Both establishments offer apprenticeships to their students in different fields of study. Institut Bonanova specialises in medical professions and Escola del Treball offers a variety of options from electronics and woodwork to graphic design and chemistry.

The visit gave the event participants an inside look on the education in Barcelona and allowed them to have a conversation with students and teachers of these establishments.

In my opinion, the event was a success and it had left many people with new topics to think about, different perspectives and fresh ideas. The event might be over, but our work continues from here and I can’t wait to cooperate with wonderful people that made all of this possible.

Written by Uliana Musakina, member of the European Apprentices Network from Finland (SAKKI ry)

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