Some 185 delegates from 28 different countries attended this international conference in Thessaloniki its’ sponsor and organiser was Cedefop who are the ‘European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training’. Director James Calleja explained their support for the conference by saying “That the core values of vocational education and training lies in quality apprenticeship programmes.” He also noted that apprenticeships give young people the security of a pay packet and dignity of a recognised qualification – both pre-requisites for employment.
NGi were selected to present their work alongside Gedling Borough Council who together with international partners from Bulgaria, Canada, Germany and Poland are engaged in a project funded by Europe to assist SMEs in the region to recruit apprentices as part of a strategy to grow.
The key note speaker was leading British SME employer Mr Jason Holt, CEO Holts Group of Companies who has won awards and honours for his contribution to promoting apprenticeships said
Mr Holt set up the sole academy to serve the UK's jewellery sector which now employs 550 apprentices. Asked by the UK Government, he led a review on apprenticeships in 2012, which has led to a fundamental change to the structure and content of UK Apprenticeship learning. He told delegates that 85% of SMEs say they can't grow because they can't find talent so he wanted delegates to focus on what small business wants.
That then was what conference set out to do, NGi was involved in workshops and project planning to inform and develop future EU projects. As a result NGi will be an active participant in several applications and potentially leading one project that focuses on how to communicate more effectively with small businesses about the benefits of apprenticeships. Their project proposal was voted as the second best concept developed at conference by the delegates themselves.