Promoting apprenticeships

This section introduces some examples of the way in which international, regional and national stakeholders have contributed to the promotion of Quality Apprenticeships.

International Labour Organization

At the 101st Session of the International Labour Conference (2012), the ILO adopted a resolution entitled The youth employment crisis: a call to action. The resolution reiterated the importance of linking education, training and the world of work through ‘enhanced technical vocational education and training (TVET), including apprenticeships, other work-experience schemes and work-based learning’. It called on governments to give serious consideration, as appropriate, to:

  • Improving the links between education, training and the world of work through social dialogue on skills mismatch and standardization of qualifications in response to labour market needs, enhanced technical vocational education and training (TVET), including apprenticeships, other work-experience schemes and work-based learning.
  • Improving the range and types of apprenticeships by:
    • complementing learning at the workplace with more structured institutional learning;
    • upgrading the training skills of master craftspersons and trainers overseeing the apprenticeships;
    • including literacy training and livelihood skills; and
    • strengthening community involvement, especially to open more occupations for young women and other vulnerable groups of young people.
  • Regulating and monitoring apprenticeship, internship and other work-experience schemes, including through certification, to ensure they allow for a real learning experience and not replace regular workers.

The resolution called upon the social partners to encourage enterprises to provide apprenticeship places and engage in collective bargaining on terms and conditions of work of apprentices (ILO, 2012a).

G20

The Labour and Employment Ministers of the G20, the central forum for international cooperation on financial and economic issues which is composed of 19 countries plus the European Union, called on their Member States in 2012 to share experiences ‘in the design and implementation of apprenticeship programmes and explore ways to identify common principles across the G20 countries’ (G20, 2012). Four years later, the Group reiterated its call for action on apprenticeships and adopted the ‘G20 Initiative to Promote Quality Apprenticeship’ (box 3), acknowledging that ‘[a]pprenticeship has proven to be an increasingly useful method to deliver vocational training globally’. It agreed to undertake further meaningful actions to increase the quality, quantity and diversity of apprenticeships, examples of which are also to be found in box 3 (G20, 2016).

Box 1: Examples of actions proposed by the G20 Initiative to Promote Quality Apprenticeship (2016) (excerpts)

  1. Establishing national goals or targets to develop, expand and improve apprenticeship programmes, including for higher education levels.
  2. Raising the quality of apprenticeships by fully engaging social partners (governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations) in the design, development and delivery of apprenticeship and ensuring a strong work-based training component (i.e. dual training systems, effective career guidance, and integration with formal schooling and skills recognition systems).
  3. Promoting apprenticeship programmes in a broad array of occupations and sectors, particularly emerging sectors and those with skill shortages.
  4. Fostering the engagement of businesses in the apprentice systems, making apprenticeships more attractive to employers, in particular SMEs, by reflecting their skills needs in training programmes, addressing legal and regulatory disincentives, and promoting an adequate/ appropriate sharing of costs among employers, providers and public authorities.
  5. Ensuring that apprenticeship programmes offer good working and training conditions, including appropriate wages, labour contracts and social security coverage, as well as respect for labour rights and occupational safety and health.

L20 and B20

The trade unions (Labour 20 – L20) and employers’ associations (Business 20 – B20) of the G20 Member States also joined forces to promote apprenticeships. In cooperation with global trade unions and employers’ associations (ITUC, IOE, BIAC and TUAC) they agreed on “Key Elements of Quality Apprenticeships” in 2013 (ITUC, 2013), and jointly emphasized the key principles in making appren­ticeships work - as may be seen in box 4.

Box 2: Global social partner principles for Quality Apprenticeships (excerpts)

  • There must be a shared responsibility between governments, employers and trade unions adequate to national circumstances.
  • High-quality vocational schools, with highly qualified and motivated teachers and up-to-date equipment are an indispensable prerequisite for effective learning.
  • Effective entries into apprenticeships should be available, not only for young people but also displaced adults who either need to move into a new industry, or need to update their skills for the evolving needs of business.
  • Strategies for lifting the status of apprenticeships should be developed, so that they are positively seen as a pathway towards a satisfying career.
  • Apprenticeship systems need their own contractual arrangements consistent with national law and practice.
  • Apprenticeship systems must be workplace centred.
  • Apprenticeship programmes should reflect gender equity objectives.
  • Apprenticeships should encourage entrepreneurship and innovation through the development of skills and general business knowledge as well as responsible business conduct.

Council of the European Union

In 2013, the European Union (EU) Member States adopted a Council Declaration on the European Alliance for Apprenticeships, a multi-stakeholder platform to promote the quality, supply, image and mobility of apprenticeships (Council of the European Union, 2013). It concluded that ‘high-quality apprenticeship schemes can make a positive contribution to combating youth unemployment by fostering skills acquisition and securing smooth and sustainable transitions from the education and training system to the labour market. Such schemes are particularly effective when embedded in a comprehensive approach at the national level that combines education, training and employment measures’. It continued by stating that:  ‘the effectiveness and attractiveness of apprenticeship schemes should be encouraged by their adherence to several common guiding principles’, It highlighted the following principles:

  • Establishing an appropriate regulatory framework, whereby the responsibilities, rights and obligations of each party involved are clearly formulated and are enforceable.
  • Encouraging national partnerships with social partners in the design, implementation and governance of apprenticeship schemes, together with other relevant stakeholders such as, where appropriate, intermediary bodies (chambers of commerce, industries and crafts, professional and sectoral organisations), education and training providers, youth and student organisations, and local, regional as well as national authorities.
  • Ensuring adequate integration of the apprenticeship schemes into the formal education and training system through a system of recognised qualifications and competences which may allow access to higher education and life-long learning.
  • Ensuring that the qualifications and competences gained and the learning process of apprenticeships are of high quality with defined standards for learning outcomes and quality assurance, in line with the Recommendation on the establishment of a European Quality Assurance Reference Framework for VET, and that the apprenticeship model is recognised as a valuable learning tool, transferable across borders, opening up the route to progress within national qualifications frameworks and aspiration to high-skilled jobs.
  • Including a strong work-based high-quality learning and training component, which should complement the specific on-the-job skills with broader, transversal and transferable skills, ensuring that participants can adapt to change after finishing the apprenticeship.
  • Involving both employers and public authorities sufficiently in the funding of apprenticeship schemes, whilst ensuring adequate remuneration and social protection of apprentices, and providing appropriate incentives for all actors to participate, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, and for an adequate supply of apprenticeship places to be made available.
  • Covering multiple sectors and occupations, including new and innovative sectors with a high employment potential, and taking into account forecasts of future skills needs.
  • Facilitating the participation of young people with fewer opportunities by providing career guidance, preparatory training and other targeted support.
  • Promoting apprenticeship schemes through awareness-raising targeted at young people, their parents, education and training providers, employers and public employment services, while highlighting apprenticeships as a pathway leading to excellence which opens up broad educational and professional opportunities, including apprenticeships as one of the options for the implementation of the Youth Guarantee schemes.1

Country level

A glance around the world also shows that governments are increasingly interested in developing and/or improving apprenticeship systems and programmes. This takes many forms. Indeed, a number of countries have:

  • Recently amended or developed legislation, or are in the process of amending, legislation, which is directly linked to TVET   - Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Romania and Spain;
  • Recently amended or developed legislation, which is indirectly linked to technical vocational education and training  - Ireland, with the establishment of Quality and Qualifications;
  • Carried out national reviews and subsequent reforms of apprenticeships - Australia, Ireland, India and the United Kingdom;
  • Making important efforts to revamp their apprenticeship law of programmes – a number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Jamaica, the Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Peru (Fazio et al., 2016);
  • Developed new national strategies to support apprenticeship training - Germany, with the Alliance for Initial and Further Training 2015-2018, Denmark, with Improving Vocational Education and Training, and Norway with a tri-partite Social Contract on Apprenticeships;
  • Introduced new funding mechanisms – United Kingdom, with the Apprenticeship Levy, and New Zealand  with its ‘Apprenticeship Reboot’ programme;
  • Completely restructured their administrative structures for implementing apprenticeship policy - for example in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom;
  • Embarked upon the process of reviewing occupation profiles, learning outcomes and curricula in existing apprenticeships and developing a series of new ones – Ireland;
  • Strengthening social dialogue, elevating the status of apprenticeship programmes and linking them to labour market demand in Jamaica;
  • Private sector non-profit initiative for dual apprenticeships in Uruguay;
  • Working with the support of the ILO to promote the development of apprenticeship programmes and/or systems – Brazil, Algeria, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Jamaica, Morocco, United Republic of Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.

In India, the National Policy on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 focuses on apprenticeship as one of its key programmes for creating skilled manpower. The policy proposes to pro-actively work with industry, including the MSME sector, to facilitate a ten-fold increase in apprenticeship opportunities in the country by 2020 (box 5).

Box 3: Example of country-level initiative - India

The Government of India launched the National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS) on 19th August 2016 to promote apprenticeship training and incentivize employers who wish to engage apprentices. NAPS has provision for the sharing of expenditure incurred by employers in both providing training and a stipend to the apprentice.

NAPS was launched with an ambitious objective of increasing the engagement of apprenticeship from 2.3 lakhs (0.23 million) to 50 lakhs (5 million) cumulatively by 2020.

A user-friendly online portal (www.apprenticeship.gov.in) has been launched in order to facilitate the easy processing of the entire apprenticeship cycle and for the effective administration and monitoring of the scheme. The portal provides end-to-end service for the employer from registration and mentioning vacancy to submitting claims, and for the apprentice from registration to receiving and accepting offer letters online.

The Apprenticeship Act was also amended to ensure that employers engage a larger number of apprentices and to encourage employers to comply with the provisions of the Act.
Source: Government of India, 2017a.


1 The Youth Guarantee scheme was set up by European Council in April 2013. It recommends that Member States should ‘ensure that all young people under the age of 25 years receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a period of four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education’ (Council Recommendation of 22 April 2013 on establishing a Youth Guarantee).