Eurochambres position on Learning Mobility
Eurochambres welcomes the current revision of the European mobility framework and the objective of identifying and tackling existing obstacles to learning mobility. The emphasis placed on the mobility of apprentices and on the recognition of mobility periods, are also positive signs. In a context of skills shortages, Eurochambres underlines the need to support the mobility of adult learners, as part of a comprehensive vocational education and training (VET) development policy. Strengthening the use of a work-based approach to education and training can also be a powerful tool, in view to upskilling and reskilling the European workforce and establishing a lifelong learning culture.
Fostering learning mobility has been a priority for Eurochambres and the chamber network, as recently underlined in the Eurochambres’ position on the European Year of Skills. Given their role of providing a wide range of services in the field of education and training, chambers of commerce and industry have a particular interest in supporting the development of vocational education and training (VET), including vocational education and training (C-VET) especially in its work-based and lifelong learning dimensions.
The current social and economic situation in the European Union is characterized by multiple and rapid changes, from the twin transition to major demographic evolutions. As a result, we have witnessed growing skills mismatches and shortages, that are becoming endemic, and threaten the functioning and future of the European economies and competitiveness.
Those shortcomings have made the importance of education, training and skills development even more central in the policy debate. In order to fully take advantage of the opportunities offered by the single market, increasing the mobility of learners, should therefore remain a priority.
Learning mobility plays a pivotal role in facilitating the exchange of best practices, in allowing students, learners, apprentices and workers (as well as companies and institutions that would profit from the learner’s experience) to benefit from an experience abroad. It is also an opportunity to acquire and develop new skills, including soft skills, and to improve adaptability to changes and new environments. Finally, learning mobility also fosters active citizenship, greater diversity and increases intercultural exchanges.
Beside intra-EU mobility, cross-border mobility also has the potential to further unlock synergies and partnerships across bordering regions, which is especially valuable for SME’s. The necessary upskilling and reskilling efforts, and the necessity to improve and support the development of lifelong and adult learning, can only benefit from an increased mobility of learners, and also teachers and trainers. However, despite progress, learning mobility, especially for adults and in a work-based context, remains hampered by significant obstacles. Removing those barriers is essential if we want to fully take advantage of mobility at European level, achieve the European Education Area (EEA) and support the development of VET as a way to address shortages and harness talent to drive the twin transition.
Why chamber network considers learning mobility relevant
Chambers of Commerce and Industry play an important role in addressing the skills mismatch, in facilitating the transition from school to work and in helping companies to play their part. They do so by developing, managing, implementing or being in any other way involved in a wide range of activities in the fields of education and training, entrepreneurship, and related areas. In view of the growing internationalisation of companies, the acquisition of foreign language skills and multicultural competences through practical learning and working experience abroad, including for VET learners and apprentices, is increasingly important. Such experience can help better prepare future professionals for the labour market in the context of the European single market and globalisation.
Chambers are in particular active in the development and delivery of education and training policies. Around 80% of the chamber network is involved in education and training and 48% deliver initial or continuous VET. Every year, 1.8 million people receive training qualifications via the chamber network, which also delivers management and governance of apprenticeship schemes in many EU and candidate countries. Furthermore, Eurochambres Economic Survey 2023 showed that skills and labour shortages to be consistently ranked among the main concerns of companies and businesses. The case of apprenticeships (or dual learning) is also particularly relevant, as it remains a powerful tool to support the transition from school and/or training to work, and to improve workers’ qualification and skills levels.
An internal “Stakeholders apprenticeships’ mobility” survey among Eurochambres’ has revealed the many obstacles that restricts apprenticeships’ mobility. Among them lack of administrative capacity and know-how of companies, lack of information about opportunities, the difficulties of finding candidates, the lack of language skills of candidates and the disparity in apprenticeship schemes from one Member State to another were mentioned. Half of the national, local and regional chambers of commerce and industry consider apprenticeship as an extremely important scheme as a tool to foster the upskilling and reskilling effort. The other half considers apprenticeships as “somewhat important”. Part of the chamber network answered that apprenticeships are used on a regular basis by businesses they work with. This proportion significantly drops when talking about cross-borders or intra-EU apprenticeships.
Eurochambres’ main messages/recommendations on the learning mobility can be found here.