Apprenticeships Development for Universal Lifelong Learning and Training (ADULT)

A project to develop strategies for modernising apprenticeships.


Technological advancements, demographic shifts, climate change, globalization and more recently the COVID-19 pandemic are causing major disruptions to the world of work. Against this backdrop, the challenge of creating decent jobs for all remains a top priority in many countries across the globe. As these global mega trends are causing the loss of some jobs while creating new ones, seizing the opportunities presented will depend on building an agile workforce capable of transitioning smoothly to newly created jobs through appropriate and timely skilling, reskilling and upskilling.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, apprenticeships are proven to be an effective strategy for addressing the challenges in the future of work. However, apprenticeship systems in many countries are confronted with many challenges and need to be modernized to meet the new demands of the fast changing world of work. Furthermore, the topic of modernizing apprenticeships to meet the growing needs for lifelong learning and the future of work remains largely under-researched and underdeveloped.
In order to generate new ideas and policy options to modernize apprenticeship systems at the global and country levels, the ILO has launched a project – Apprenticeship Development for Universal Lifelong Learning and Training – with the support of the Government of Flanders.


With the ultimate goal of promoting lifelong learning and skills acquisition for all women and men in the changing world of work, this project aims to generate new ideas and policy options to modernize apprenticeships to meet the needs of all segments of the population in existing and new economic sectors, including the digital and green economy for countries at various stages of development. It will explore how apprenticeship systems can equip both youth and adults with the skills relevant to the future of work, thereby facilitating their access to and transitions in the labour market. Through strengthening the knowledge and capacity of governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations in modernizing apprenticeships, the project will also support the ILO's efforts in developing a new international labour standard on apprenticeships.

Outcomes and Outputs

In view of the research gaps on the relevance of apprenticeships to lifelong learning and the future of work, a range of complementary research studies at both the global and country levels will be carried out. By examining ongoing initiatives, good practices and effective strategies, this project seeks to generate innovative ideas and policy options to modernize apprenticeships.

With the expected outcome of increased capacity of member States to modernize apprenticeships to facilitate access to and transitions in the fast-changing labour market, this project consists of two outputs:

1. Global policy research on innovative strategies to modernize apprenticeships based on the following themes:
  • Adapting apprenticeships for reskilling and upskilling of adults and older workers;
  • Promoting apprenticeships to meet skills needs of the digital and knowledge economy;
  • Using technology to strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of implementing apprenticeships;
  • Enhancing the participation of enterprises, specifically SMEs, in offering apprenticeship opportunities;
  • Improving the attractiveness and social perception of apprenticeships including promoting pathways to higher education;
  • Introducing or strengthening dual training through traineeships, internships and any other work based learning programme in addition to apprenticeships with the school-based VET;
  • Upgrading the quality and credibility of apprenticeships in the informal economy.
2. Country-level research reports on innovative strategies to modernize apprenticeships in four countries (one each from Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe):
  • Dominican Republic;
  • Finland;
  • India;
  • South Africa.

Project Advisory Committee

To ensure the quality of outputs of the research project, the ILO has set up a high-level advisory committee to provide inputs, resources and advice for the research project. The advisory committee is further divided into seven sub-committees on each of the global research thematic areas mentioned in the previous section.

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