Preparing staff to train and mentor apprentices

The issue: The challenge of having competent trainers, teachers and other staff

Practitioners from a number of entities (enterprises, TVET providers, ministries and other public authorities responsible for apprenticeships, employers’ and workers’ organizations, employment services providers and general schools) are involved in the design and management of apprenticeship programmes. Chapter 7 of Toolkit 1 provides details of their roles and responsibilities. The following paragraphs will provide specific information on two main types of practitioners who train apprentices – trainers in enterprises and teachers in TVET providers.

In-company mentors/trainers/supervisors are directly responsible for interacting with apprentices, imparting practical training and introducing them to the work during on-the-job training. They should serve as role models for apprentices, who are often at a critical adolescent stage of development and may be entering the workplace for the first time. Their main roles and responsibilities are detailed below:

  • Plan, organize and implement apprenticeship training in the enterprise.
  • Ensure that apprentices work and learn in the occupation as specified in the agreement.
  • Monitor, assess and record the progress of the apprentices’ skills acquisition.
  • Provide special care for apprentices with learning difficulties, disabilities and other limitations.
  • Act as the focal point for the apprenticeship programme, coordinate with other sections and workers in the enterprise, as well as with external partners involved in the training process (e.g. TVET institutions, public authorities for education and employment in intermediaries).
  • Prevent and resolve conflicts by mutual agreement or, if this is not possible, follow the predetermined conflict settlement procedures (e.g. in-company staff regulations, collective agreements, relevant labour code).
  • Ensure safety and security at work for apprentices at all times.

Box 4.12 In-company trainer qualification, Germany

In Germany, qualification as an in-CT is an integral part of the master craftsperson training. However, the in-CT certificate can also be acquired outside the master craftsperson qualification. It is obligatory for a training employer in Germany to employ at least one person with an in-CT qualification.

Training apprentices in the workplace is a specialized, demanding task. While skilled workers are competent in performing the relevant tasks at the workplace, they may not necessarily be equipped to train young people. Therefore, pedagogic training should be mandatory for those delivering training to apprentices in the workplace, and as a pre-condition for employers’ participation in apprenticeships (see box 4.12). A study by Jablonka and Ulmer (2007) has shown that there is a correlation between the provision of training by in-CTs and the quality of apprenticeships. When the apprenticeship programme is being introduced or expanded, a grace period may be necessary to give employers time to provide the necessary training to their staff.

Figure 4.2 The training skills needed by an in-CT

Source: Authors’ own.

Teachers in TVET providers take on the following roles and responsibilities:

  • Planning, organizing and delivering off-the-job training in TVET providers within the framework of the overall apprenticeship programme (refer to section 7.7 of Toolkit 1 for details).
  • Interacting with their counterparts in partner enterprises to ensure optimal coordination between the off-the-job and on-the-job elements of the training programme.
  • Monitoring the learning progress and skills development of apprentices on a regular basis.
  • Providing additional support for apprentices with learning difficulties, disabilities and other challenges.
  • During the introduction of apprenticeships, TVET teachers may be able to support in-CTs in developing employer training plans.

To carry out these roles and responsibilities, TVET teachers and trainers will need to be well-qualified and, in the case of licensed occupations linked to apprenticeships, hold the necessary professional certifications. In Toolkit 1, box 25 provides information on the qualifications for teachers and trainers in TVET providers in Austria.

Figure 4.3 The pedagogical interventions of a TVET teacher

Source: Authors’ own.