SAPS – Support for small and medium sized enterprises engaging in apprenticeships

Across Europe, there are large disparities in the number of apprenticeship placements offered to students in Professional Higher Education (PHE). With respect to placements offered by SMEs, a number of barriers arise, in particular that:
a) SMEs may not have the structures in place to take on apprentices
b) The value proposition is not always clear for the SMEs
c) PHE Institutions are not always suited to mass-market their supply of students for placements, and to operate them at scale with large numbers of SMEs.

To this end, the SAPS Project has the aim of:
• improving the perception of SMEs of the benefits of engaging apprentices from PHE Institutions
• lowering the barriers to cooperation between PHE Institutions and SMEs
• establishing more regular and structured cooperation between the umbrella organizations for PHE (EURASHE members) and organizations representing SMEs.

SAPS is tackling these barriers through a two-pronged approach. The first is to bring European experts in managing apprenticeships together, to develop teaching & learning materials for SMEs, while at the same time improving the procedures of PHE Institutions go make them more open to apprenticeships. To this end, the project will:
•Develop a toolkit for SMEs including on collaborating with PHEIs, on-boarding apprentices and deriving value out of apprentice placements.
• Create quality guidelines for PHEIs offering apprenticeships to SMEs, covering the areas of governance & strategy, teaching & Learning as well as operations

The second phase of the project will be to promote the advantages of apprenticeships with SMEs while tackling any perceptional barriers, via a 10-country, multi-lingual apprenticeship attractiveness campaign. The highlight of the campaign will be an apprenticeship portal bringing together promotional messages, examples of best practice, tools including those developed by the project, and, critically, a list of contacts of one-stop-shops for starting offering placements, offered by PHE Institutions across Europe.

Our highlight target is to achieve a quarter-million website hits by the end of the campaign. This will be achieved through a combination of seminar appearances, joint promotion with SME-representative organizations, promotion in the media, as well as social-media and web advertising.

Through this approach we will have impact on all priorities of the application. We will increase the supply of apprenticeships by lowering barriers to take on apprentices, both from the sides of the organizations sending and those receiving, as well as by increasing cooperation between PHE Institutions and SMEs. We will improve the quality of apprenticeships by offering guidance to SMEs on how to organize these, and giving PHE Institutions a quality assessment tool for assessing it. We will improve attractiveness by highlighting the value proposition of offering placements, through an ambitious attractiveness campaign.