Expert organisations from eight countries across Europe have joined forces to create the blueprint that will make it easier for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to grow their workforce through apprentices.

SMEs, including micro-businesses, are the backbone of the European economy and provide around two-thirds of private sector employment in the EU. Yet they often struggle to provide apprenticeship opportunities. Some of the most common reasons include: a lack of training infrastructure and personnel to supervise apprentices, as well as insufficient expertise and capacity to manage complex rules, employment law and administrative requirements. SMEs need a more supportive approach than bigger businesses looking at bridging the gap in their knowledge around apprenticeships processes. The design and provision of such support is the final objective of the SERFA project.


As such, the project aims:

  • To better understand barriers faced by SMEs when engaging with apprenticeship schemes and offer vacancies
  • To identify the SMEs needs to overcome those barriers
  • To support businesses in identifying their potential to offer apprenticeships vacancies and the associated benefits
  • To co-design, with SMEs, the services, tools and products helping remove the barriers and to support SMEs in offering more apprenticeships
  • To promote the value of apprenticeships in SMEs and their benefits through an “Apprenticeship Champion” Campaign involving SMEs employing apprentices


The project consortium brings in complementary expertise from eight organisations representative of various economic sectors and with expertise in employment, vocational education and training. They will ensure the project is business driven and that products and services developed respond to a real demand from SMEs.

The Services for Apprenticeships (SERFA) project which started in October 2016 will last two years finishing in September 2018.

The project is funded at 80% by Erasmus Plus under the Key Action 3 priority “support for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises engaging in Apprenticeships”. Erasmus+ is the programme of the European Union which supports actions in the fields of Education, Training, Youth and Sport across Europe.