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
  • To support businesses in identifying their potential to offer apprenticeships vacancies
  • To co-design, with SMEs, the services, tools and products that will help remove these barriers
  • To promote the value of apprenticeships in SMEs and their benefits through an “Apprenticeship Champions” campaign

The project consortium brings in complementary expertise from eight organisations representative of various economic sectors and with expertise in employment, vocational education and training. These organisations 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 started in October 2016 and lasts 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.

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.