This report details Cedefop’s first cross-nation study of apprenticeships in the European Union. The point of departure for the study is what countries define and offer as apprenticeship training. It then applies a purposive approach to identifying the changes that apprenticeships are undergoing in practice, based on their design characteristics.
Largely based on data collected in 2016, the study includes mapping of apprenticeship schemes with a stable/valid legal basis at system level, or mainstream schemes, in the EU Member States, Iceland and Norway; it identifies and analyses the different purposes and functions associated with the schemes, and investigates whether and how they differ in terms of organisation. This report indicates the fundamental differences among apprenticeships in Europe that account for the absence of a shared understanding of the concept of apprenticeship. The design of apprenticeship schemes seems to respond to two different and evolving purposes and functions of apprenticeship, the analysis of which may bring new insights into EU- and national-level policy debates.
The EU+ mapping identified one or more apprenticeship scheme (considered as such in the national context) which has a stable/valid legal basis and is mainstreamed at system level in 24 out of the 30 countries covered by the study. No system-level mainstream apprenticeship schemes were identified in six countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Malta, Slovenia and Slovakia. However, in four of these countries a valid legal framework existed and/or apprenticeship schemes were piloted; in two countries, no apprenticeship scheme existed but the school-based vocational education and training (VET) had strong in-company training.
A total of 30 relevant apprenticeship schemes are identified across the remaining 24 countries, two of which are not linked to the formal qualifications of national qualifications frameworks. Nine out of the 30 schemes are either umbrella work-based learning schemes (these could be con gured as apprenticeship training in presence of a contract between the learner and the training company and remuneration) or multiple apprenticeship schemes composed of sub-schemes (differentiated by level of education, system of governance, occupation and type of qualification).
The mapping exercise showed that the apprenticeship schemes share the following common features: compulsory learning and/or working in a company, in combination or not with learning at an education and training provider, and the contractual link between the learner and the company. However, the country research confirms the expected heterogeneity in defining the terms apprentice or apprenticeship across the 24 countries; the following differences contribute:
(a) the principal function attached to apprenticeships: education,
employment, or mixed education and employment;
(b) the approaches in de ning the terms: purposive approaches (why) versus
descriptive approaches (how);
(c) the clarity of the definitions: varying from very clear (what and how) to
vague and/or very broad.
Terminological heterogeneity seems to be a symptom of the conceptual differences that exist at cross-country level, leading to different defining functions and approaches in defining the terms.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Apprenticeship schemes in European countries: a cross-nation overview | Cedefop