26 Jul 2021

UNIFE boosts skills in rail by signing European Alliance for Apprenticeships pledge

The European Rail Supply Industry is facing a skills shortage. With an aging workforce reaching a well-deserved retirement and the urgent need for increased digital capacities, UNIFE and its Members are devoted to ensuring that young people and transitioning professionals have the vocational training, educational pathways and job experience opportunities needed to successfully build the next generation of sustainable and smart mobility. After launching the Hop On for Our Planet! campaign with several members in 2019, and participating in the ERASMUS+-funded STAFFER Blueprint for Skills in Rail, started in 2020, UNIFE continues this commitment  by joining the European Alliance for Apprenticeships’ (EAfA).

Established in 2013, the EAfA is a multi-stakeholder platform aimed at strengthening the quality, availability and attractiveness of apprenticeships. It also seeks to enhance the mobility of apprentices in Europe through national commitments and voluntary pledges from stakeholders. EAfA acts as a platform for networking, sharing experience and good practices with other alliance members and the public. By joining this alliance, UNIFE has the opportunity to share with and learn from other alliance members and experts on how to improve the quality of apprenticeships and act as a catalyst for the development of new projects, as well as to access important online resources and in-person events needed to ensure skills transfer in order to maintain Europe’s global leadership in both climate action and rail.

Since its launch, 36 countries – the 27 EU Member States and EFTA or candidate countries - have made national commitments. They are joined by 360 stakeholders (e.g., companies, social partners, chambers of commerce, Vocational & Educational Training (VET) providers and regional and local authorities) who have pledged to bolster the role of apprenticeships in the Europe skills acquisition landscape. Together, the alliance has pledged to provide 1 million training and job opportunities.

Upon joining EAfA, UNIFE Director General Philippe Citroën reflected: “UNIFE is proud to stand with the European Alliance for Apprenticeships and excited to collaborate with the group in the future to ensure that citizens can access rewarding careers in the European Rail Supply Industry. Improving skills acquisition through VET programmes is essential to equipping Europeans with the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) capabilities needed to design, implement and deploy the rail products needed to spur on a digital and green transition that ensures robust economic development.”

As its first participatory action as part of EAfA, UNIFE will join the alliance’s joint high-level conference on 9-10 December 2021 in Vienna. The event is organised in collaboration with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion and the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport, as well the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK).  Taking place in the context of the European Year of Rail, this conference will bring together policymakers and sector stakeholders from across Europe. It will address digitalisation, green skills and social inclusion, the attractiveness and quality of current VET options, women in rail, and mobility and transnational cooperation in VET.

For more information about the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, please contact UNIFE Head of Communications Andrei Ciufu.

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