Does Europe’s inland waterways transport need apprentices? Annual Seminar 2017

18 Sep 2017

Ever since 2008, the ETF Inland Waterways Section organises an annual seminars to deepen knowledge, learn from the experiences of rank and file members, and build capacity to cope with both national and European problems.  These seminars are the perfect networking opportunities to strengthen the bond between ETF affiliates.

The 2017 seminar discussed apprentices in the European inland waterways sector.  Do we still need them?

The following related topics were identified and discussed:

  • Employers should not consider apprentices as cheap extra crewmembers: how to control this and avoid abuses.
  • Role and responsibility of the onboard trainer/tutor and training programme.
  • Attractiveness of the sector for apprentices: how do we get young people wanting to work in inland waterways?
  • Funding of apprenticeships and financial compensations: national practices and solutions.
  • The challenge of increasing automation in the sector: its impact on the qualifications and attractiveness for apprentices.
  • Similarities and differences with maritime sector.

Participants worked in 3 Working Groups, which discussed the following topics:

  1. Why does the Inland Waterways sector need apprentices?
  2. Where do apprentices fit in? Are they part of the regular crew?
  3. What conditions do we need to provide to attract apprentices to the sector?

The conclusions of the Seminar were very clear – The ETF believes that strengthening the presence of apprentices in the IWT sector is essential. This should be done:

    • With a clear distinction between the role of apprentices and the rest of the crew.
    • Not to the detriment of crewmembers and their working conditions.
    • With clear job perspectives for the apprentices.
    • According to clear rules on funding of apprenticeships and with a financial compensation for the apprentice not left to the good will of the employer.