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International Comparisons of Apprenticeship. Overview and Policy Issues. Presentation prepared for National Apprenticeship Service Seminar ‘Apprenticeship: International Comparisons ’ February 8 2011. Dr. Hilary Steedman presented, with summary of new research

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international comparisons of apprenticeship

International Comparisons of Apprenticeship

Overview and Policy Issues

Presentation prepared for National Apprenticeship Service Seminar

‘Apprenticeship: International Comparisons’ February 8 2011

Dr. Hilary Steedman presented, with summary of new research

CEP, London School of Economics findings: Professor Linda Clarke,

& Political Science University of Westminster

presentation based on the state of apprenticeship in 2010
Presentation based on ‘The State of Apprenticeship in 2010’
  • Commissioned by the Apprenticeship Ambassadors Network – senior business leaders committed to apprenticeship
  • Surveys 8 countries – Australia, Austria, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland
  • Focus – governance, employer demand, careers guidance, funding
  • Download at
the balance between full time vocational learning and apprenticeship
The balance between full-time vocational learning and apprenticeship
  • In all countries except England and Ireland between a half and two-thirds of 17 year olds are on a vocational/technical route; England also has the shortest duration of apprenticeship
  • In the dual-system countries (Austria, Germany, Switzerland) between a half and two thirds are in apprenticeship
  • In Australia, England, France and Ireland a minority of those in vocational education are in apprenticeship
articulating apprenticeship full time vocational education and he
Articulating apprenticeship, full-time vocational education and HE
  • Germany has difficulties placing low-qualified young people in apprenticeship and relies increasingly on full-time pre-apprenticeship vocational preparation prior to full apprenticeship
  • Switzerland has a dedicated route to HE for apprentices which requires full-time vocational learning after apprenticeship
  • Apprentices in France study for the same qualifications as those in full-time education from EQF Level 3 to Levels 7, 8
  • Australia (NSW) offers apprenticeship to 17 year olds as part of their vocational school programme
  • Sweden will include an apprenticeship programme in the renewed Upper Secondary School from 2011
how many apprentices how old are they
How many apprentices?How old are they?

Apprentices per 1000 employed 2009

Apprentices in France, Ireland and the three dual-system countries are normally

below 25. In Australia, a half and in England a quarter of all apprentices

are over 25

governance and employer commitment
Governance and employer commitment
  • Enabling greater employer commitment is the issue at the heart of apprenticeship
  • Governance structures for apprenticeship in England do not look very different across eight leading apprenticeship countries
  • The difference lies in the degree of ownership claimed by employers
employer involvement in managing apprenticeship
Employer involvement in managing apprenticeship
  • England’s governance structures are complex and receive more public funds than in the dual-system countries
  • Swiss employers claim ownership of all the processes of apprenticeship management
  • Employers in Austria are responsible for the production and publication of apprenticeship statistics and contribute to the management and funding of the highly-respected leading research institute on apprenticeship
  • Employer organisations in Germany have entered into direct agreements with the government to raise demand for apprentices. At the same time, employer proposals for reducing the costs of apprenticeship to employers by increasing flexibility have been accepted as a quid pro quo.
can apprentice employers in england also be training providers
Can apprentice employers in England also be training providers?
  • Being a provider of apprentice training rather than a provider of an apprentice workplace is crucial to ‘ownership’ of apprenticeship
  • Employers in Switzerland, Germany and Austria are well-organised because they are providers
  • Employers in the ‘high commitment’ countries are directly involved in training apprentices in their own workplaces. They experience at first hand the results of policy decisions on apprenticeship. They understand why it is important to commit time and energy to making an impact on apprenticeship policy
  • In England, providers are also well-organised – but they are not employers
complex funding rules are they necessary
Complex funding rules: are they necessary?
  • Accountability for public funding creates a much higher administrative burden in England than in other countries.
  • Accountability is managed differently in other countries.
  • Written and practical examinations play a large part in quality control and accountability
  • Publicly funded payments for apprentices are made directly to employers e.g. Switzerland, where most employers do not incur net apprenticeship training costs and which has the highest employer demand
can we get good information on apprenticeship into schools
Can we get good information on apprenticeship into schools?
  • Legislation in England now requires information on apprenticeship to be offered in schools.
  • In other apprenticeship countries young people apply directly to employers for an apprenticeship
  • This creates a need for information to be provided while at school
  • The curriculum prescribes a programme of exploration of occupational opportunities, visits and short work placements
quality of entrants is he a threat or a lifeline
Quality of entrants – is HE a threat or a lifeline?

* Denotes score statistically significantly different from UK

The 2009 PISA mathematics tests show England in a fairly dismal light. Poor average attainments in key skills

such as mathematics combined with an HE participation rate among the highest of all the apprenticeship countries

mean that English employers recruit apprentices from a group of young people whose school attainments are often

not of the standard required.

While in most apprentice countries HE participation is lower than in England, there are routes to HE through

apprenticeship which promote social mobility and improve the quality of entrants to apprenticeship.


Apprentices aiming for NVQ 3 and higher account for all the growth

in apprenticeship in France since 1994

policy issues
Policy issues
  • Employer and employee ‘ownership’ of governance structures
  • The provider role – the key to employer commitment?
  • Could more large employers offer apprenticeships?
  • Complex funding rules: are they necessary?
  • Can we get good information on apprenticeship into schools?
  • Why does England have high average apprentice wages?
  • Quality of entrants – is HE a threat or a lifeline for apprenticeship?
different bricklaying apprenticeships
Different bricklaying apprenticeships

The Dual System (Germany, Denmark, France, Belgium, Netherlands)

  • Representative of dual approach to VET with strong occupational identity and breadth.
  • Social partnership-based, and with a distinct notion of occupational competence.

Skills-based System (England, Italy)

  • Trade rather than occupation; Narrow Scope
  • Low currency of VET
  • Weakness of social partnership (England)
  • Lack of integration with educational elements
dissimilarities between bricklaying apprenticeships in england italy and the other six countries
Dissimilarities Between Bricklaying Apprenticeships in England, Italy and the other Six Countries.

a] the narrowness of the scope of the qualification (less so for Italy than for England)

b] the weakness of the knowledge base

c] the lack of a general and civic educational element

d] the limited development of a capacity for self and project management