Amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic: Work-based learning should not be forgotten

As unemployment spikes amid pandemic, youth is particularly affected. More than others, young workers need support to pull through the crisis. Within the “A bridge to Jobs” initiative, EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit has recognised the severity of the problem and shown commitment to finding effective solutions in dialogue with social partners.

Supporting young Europeans’ jobs is not an easy job itself: Schmit’s cabinet is rolling up its sleeves. Close cooperation with social partners is key. The Start-Net conference “A Bridge to Jobs – how to support young people’s #TransitionToWork since COVID-19?” (Brussels, 30/09/2020) was an opportunity for Commissioner Schmit, Goethe-Institut Secretary General Johannes Ebert and Sart-Net project partners from all across Europe to discuss side-by-side on strategies to tackle current education and employment challenges.

Important instruments have been already put in place. The “Youth Employment Support (YES)” package will provide young Europeans the right opportunities to find their way to VET and the job market. YES will complement the already successful “Youth Guarantee”. Objective: granting the most precarious workers better and more dignified life and working conditions within a 2-year timeframe.

Commissioner Schmit stated his commitment to the “European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA). This last will allow policy-makers and key stakeholders to join forces for the benefit of European apprentices and apprenticeship schemes. Here the aim is to improve and enhance the quality, supply and overall image of apprenticeships in a consistent and effective way all across Europe, with a particular attention to transnational mobility.

Initiatives like EAfA blaze the trail to restart apprenticeships and work-based learning programs in perfect shape after their forced slowdown or stop, both in Europe and in the rest of the world. While students provided with internet connection in their household could effectively complete their curricular courses online, in-company internships were put on hold.

As smart-working and home-office are becoming the new “normal” working mode, the prerogatives of on-site training should not be forgotten. Not everything can be learnt remotely, cut away from interpersonal and intercultural exchange. Educational institutions and companies are obviously aware of what is currently left behind in terms of training and work-based learning. And while they strive to keep on going and adapt to current sanitary regulations the emergency mode, they are also looking ahead to the post-Covid Era and future challenges.

They keep an eye on the level of quality of their apprenticeship programs: to achieve that companies and educational institutions can use benchmarking platforms like to evaluate & improve the quality of the apprenticeship programs. is a European platform that provides resources and benchmarking tools, for the quality assurance and continuous improvement of educational institutions and companies involved in vocational education and training and in work-based learning. 

More on here.

Samir Cheriaa & Luisa de Paula

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