The lure of apprenticeships in times of crisis

Published on International Labour Organization ILO, Oct. 15, 2012.

GENEVA (ILO News) – Determined to avert the rise of a lost generation, the world is increasingly looking to apprenticeships as a silver bullet against the global youth jobs crisis.

Any solution obviously would be complex but the renewed focus on apprenticeships and their job-creation potential is welcome at a time when 75 million young men and women are unemployed.

Good apprenticeships provide young people with the skills they need to enter the marketplace and match the supply of skilled labour to the needs of employers. They can help reduce the incidence and duration of unemployment, while supporting economic growth. 

“Better and more broadly available apprenticeships and other training opportunities, can reduce youth unemployment and poverty when combined with national efforts to spur job growth,” says Christine Evans-Klock, who heads the ILO’s Skills and Employability Department … //

… Private sector involvement:

However countries choose to set up apprenticeship programmes, involvement of the private sector is fundamental and must be a starting point, says Axmann.

“What is needed is a commitment from companies and preferably whole sectors.”

One of the main reasons for relatively smooth school-to-work transitions in dual system countries is that the availability of apprenticeships is closely linked to the needs of employers.

Worker organizations also have an important role to play in the design of quality apprenticeships, while the government needs to assure quality basic education, facilitate private sector involvement and share the costs of the dual training system.

Improving and rethinking:

There is also scope for scaling up, strengthening and improving apprenticeship programmes in countries that already have them.

This is all the more important as the emergence of new jobs – for example in the clean energy sector – means new skills are needed.

Delivering quality apprenticeships entails ensuring that the curriculum is relevant to the needs of today’s world of work. In some cases this involves a rethink of the way skills are imparted, with less focus of memorization and more on analytical thought, says Axmann.

“Rather than a brain like a computer with a small processor and a huge memory, what is needed to succeed in today’s world of work is a brain with a much bigger processor unit.”
(full text).


Guy Ryder: New direction needed if poverty is to be beaten, on ILOnews, Oct. 17, 2012;

ILO says cooperatives key to boosting food production, on ILOnews, Oct. 16, 2012;

Insuring livestock to protect the poor: Livestock insurance has the potential to reduce the vulnerability of poor populations – The challenges are formidable, but recent technology offers hope, on ILOnews, Oct. 12, 2012.

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