Greece National Event, 30 January 2017, Athens, Greece

The Greece National Event for  the  project  titled  National  Authorities  for  Apprenticeship: Companies as Sustainable Partners for Apprenticeship in Greece and Cyprus (NAAGRCY), which is co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union, was held on 30 January 2017 at the IME GSEVEE premises, Athens, Greece.

Bringing together employers, teachers, representatives of trade associations and Vocational Education and Training (VET) bodies, the NAAGRCY National Event started with opening addresses by the OAED Governor, Professor Maria Karamesini; the Vice President of the Institute of Educational Policy (IEP), Pavlos Haramis; the General Secretary of the Hellenic Confederation of Professionals, Craftsmen and Merchants (GSEVEE), Georgios Kourasis; the EC Member and Finance Secretary of the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), Georgios Georgakopoulos, and the General Manager of the Greek Tourism Confederation (SETE), Georgios Amvrazis. The speakers stressed the importance of the NAAGRCY project, particularly highlighting the need to upgrade the role of Apprenticeship in the labour market and enhance the links between apprentices, VET schools and employers.
Subsequently, the representatives of the NAAGRCY national partners presented the various aspects of the project, as well as the research findings drawn from its implementation.
On behalf of the Greek Public Employment Service, OAED, the NAAGRCY Project Manager and OAED Director of International Relations, Athanasia Theodoridou, talked about the project’s content and importance. She described the factors that can contribute to making companies quality Apprenticeship venues, pointing out that the project’s implementation and transfer of know-how are expected to improve the effectiveness of Apprenticeship systems in Greece and Cyprus. The “good practices” developed through the project are also going to enhance the attractiveness of VET in these two countries. Finally, and more widely, the project’s piloting and its evaluation are going to set the criteria required for establishing a network of companies –in important sectors– and VET schools.
The representatives of IEP focused on the further training of the apprentices’ trainers.With reference to the two training seminars recently held at the OAED Apprenticeship Vocational Schools of Moschato (Attica) and Argolis (Nafplion), Vassilios Parissis discussed the seminar outcomes and stressed how the improvement of knowledge, competencies, skills and attitudes can help attain the NAAGRCY Project’s wider aims. Irene Kyriakidi discussed IEP’s overall role in designing and implementing a (Questionnaire- and Focus-Group-based) research study on the training needs of the apprentices’ in-company trainers. The most important needs identified by the Questionnaire-based research concerned, inter alia, new training techniques and contingency management methods. On the other hand, the Focus-Group-based research findings drew attention to the importance of the in-company trainer’s versatile role, the relationship between the trainer and the trainee/apprentice, the cooperation between the School and the Company, etc.
The representatives of IME GSEVEE discussed, firstly, the particular features of Greek very small enterprises with regard to Apprenticeship and, secondly, the establishment of Apprenticeship Support Intermediate Networks between enterprises and VET schools. More specifically,  Vassilis Siomadis discussed the research study conducted with a view to examining and evaluating the existing Apprenticeship systems, and recording the particular work and business environments in Greece and Cyprus. According to the research findings, the involvement of employer associations and companies in Apprenticeship schemes is a key factor for improving Apprenticeship. Gerasimos Karoulas focused on the establishment of Apprenticeship Support Intermediate Networks between enterprises and VET schools. More particularly, by providing specific examples of European intermediate networks, he analysed their main aims and contribution to effective Apprenticeships.
Representing INE GSEE, Iakovos Karatrasoglou discussed the role of Apprenticeship in the transition from education to employment. He stressed that the process of moving from initial vocational education and training to employment is an issue of particular interest to several bodies (not limited to educational ones, e.g. the Ministry of Labour, Local Government authorities, various relevant organizations etc.), which need valid and well-documented information, so that they can effectively contribute to the improvement of the transition. The following features were cited among the essential characteristics of quality Apprenticeship: suitable enterprises; well-informed supervisors and in-company trainers; satisfactory remuneration for apprentices; a mutually accepted Apprenticeship contract; involvement of an observer/representative from the relevant union; curricula based on occupational outlines etc.
Finally, the representatives of the two EPAS schools where the NAAGRCY project was piloted closed the section of presentations with a description of the challenges and benefits that accompanied the project’s implementation. More specifically, the Argolis EPAS Director, Ioanna Koloriza, and the Moschato EPAS Director, Nikolaos Poulakos, explained that the challenges mainly concerned getting in touch with enterprises, ensuring cooperation with them, and informing them about the NAAGRCY project’s innovative aspects. The two speakers finally presented the clear benefits of the project’s implementation: strengthening the relations between VET schools and employers; expanding the cooperation with employers; updating in- company training curricula; employers participating in the learning community; VET teaching staff and in-company training staff committing themselves to support each other with a view to further enhancing the quality of Apprenticeship.