Monitoring, assessment and certification

A comprehensive, credible mechanism for monitoring and assessing apprentices’ performance is an indispensable component of all quality apprenticeship programmes. It is crucial for ensuring apprentices’ progress and establishing that they are on the right track to attain the required competencies to complete the programme (see box 5.3).

Box 5.3 Monitoring apprenticeships, South Korea

In South Korea, monitoring of apprenticeships starts from the selection of the participating company and proceeds until the completion of the training. It covers overall work, such as preparation for training, apprentice recruitment, treatment of and working conditions for apprentices, teaching methods, management, assessment and certification, and the use of HRD-Net – Vocational and Information Network.

Source: Kang, Jeon and Lee, 2017.

Assessment is usually divided into two categories with different objectives: formative and summative assessment. Summative assessment (also known as assessment of learning) refers to final assessments (including tests and examinations) after the completion of the apprenticeship programme. It is used to determine whether apprentices have achieved the learning outcomes of the programme or competency standards that would make them eligible for the intended qualification. Formative assessment (also referred to as assessment for learning), by contrast, draws on information gathered at frequent intervals throughout the learning process, with the aim of identifying specific learning needs and adjusting training and teaching accordingly (Looney, 2011).

The issue: Why formative assessment is important for quality apprenticeships

Through formative assessment, the learning progress of apprentices can be monitored continuously throughout the apprenticeship programme. More specifically, it allows enterprises and TVET providers to:

  • be fully informed about the learning and training of apprentices in various training venues, and whether they encounter any challenges during their training period
  • improve the coherence of on- and off-the-job training offered by enterprises and TVET providers, respectively, in different training venues
  • enhance apprentices’ awareness and understanding of the expectations of the programme and of their progress
  • identify the strengths and weaknesses of individual apprentices, and provide the required support to improve their learning and performance
  • identify apprentices who are falling behind or at risk of dropping out and introduce individual support measures as appropriate
  • make an informed decision on whether to offer the graduating apprentice a job
  • modify and adjust the programme to strengthen its benefits for all parties involved.

It is important to keep in mind that monitoring of apprentices should not be regarded as a control measure or as a means of eliminating weaker apprentices during the programme, but rather as a support instrument for ensuring the success of apprenticeship programmes for all.

The issue: Why the summative assessment and certification system is important for quality apprenticeships

Summative assessment evaluates whether an apprentice has achieved the learning outcomes or competency standards prescribed for a programme. As these learning outcomes are based on the occupational standards, the qualification received by apprentices on completion of their programme demonstrates that they have gained the required competencies to work in that occupation. It is important to ensure that the assessment process is of high quality, reliable and fair, and involves social partners, so that employers can confidently place their trust in it and value the qualification acquired by apprentices in their recruitment process, thereby improving the prospects of apprenticeship graduates in the labour market.

The qualification awarded to apprentices should be an integral part of the education and training system of the country and allow further education and training opportunities for apprenticeship graduates.