In order for a company to undertake training of an apprentice they need to be formally approved. Typical requirements are that they have minimum one employee, which has obtained an upper secondary VET qualification within the occupation that the apprentice wishes to be trained in and that the company can meet the requirements specified in the training plan including equipment requirements. In order to start training the company and the apprentice have to sign an apprenticeship contract, which is legally binding for both parties. Two or more companies may typically be able to share an apprentice, which can be an opportunity for example for highly specialised companies. Apprentices learn by working on actual tasks in a real work environment with other colleagues being supervised and supported by the trainer as needed.
In apprenticeship based training, students also attend vocational schools on a part time basis. The duration of school-based versus in-company training vary from country to country. The school based training is aimed to reinforce what is learned through company based-training and to ensure that the student acquire knowledge, competences and skills, which are relevant to the occupation and occupational mobility. The aim is also to ensure that the school part of the programme develop students’ general competences and lay the foundation for lifelong learning.
The training plan is key to linking the company based part of the training and the school education. A clear distribution of responsibilities, communication and cooperation between the company and the school and clear feedback mechanisms on student progress are essential features in successful apprenticeship. The VET schools or social partner representatives will often take lead in ensuring mechanisms, which can support efficient cooperation.
Trainers in apprenticeship companies will have a VET qualification in the field for which he/she trains, and this may be supplemented by a certificate as in-company trainer, which is compulsory in some apprenticeship systems. The VET teacher at schools will have different qualifications depending upon the subjects they teach. If they teach theoretical subjects they will minimum have a qualification at a bachelor level supplemented by pedagogical training. Teachers that teach more practice oriented topics will typically have a vocational qualification supplemented by pedagogical training. Teachers at VET schools will typically also have some labour market experience prior to teaching.