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Slovenia: new Apprenticeship Act

The initiative to reintroduce apprenticeship into the education system was included in the Social agreement in 2015 in accordance with the Coalition agreement.

The Minister of Education established a working group comprising key VET stakeholders: ministries (education, labour and economy), chambers, unions, schools, Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for VET (CPI) and the employment service. The working group prepared a draft Act on Apprenticeship, which was adopted in 2017 after public debate.

According to the new act, there are two pathways for three-year upper secondary VET programmes: school venue and apprenticeship. Both pathways are equivalent in educational standards and vocation achieved, so transition from one to another is easier. In the apprenticeship path more than 50% of the programme is carried out by one or several employers. The apprenticeship can also be carried out through international mobility programmes and partially also in intercompany training centres. At least 40% of the apprenticeship programmes are carried out in the schools. General education subjects are provided by schools for both paths equally, while professional modules are adapted, depending on the path.

The act defines the responsibilities of the shareholders, the rights and the obligations of the companies, chambers and apprentices, the conditions to become a training company, the elements of the apprenticeship contract, apprentice insurance and remuneration, and supervision. The basis for cooperation is the contract between apprentice and company, which has no elements of employment, so the apprentice has all the rights that come with student status. The contract must be registered by a competent chamber to check its compliance with the law. The contract defines the mutual rights and obligations, the time plan of practical training, and the employer's limitation not to burden the apprentice with tasks that are not related to his vocation. Practical training should not be carried out between 22.00 and 6.00 the next day. The employer must allow at least six weeks of continuous holiday during the summer. In the new Act apprentice remuneration is EUR 250 minimum in the first year; EUR 300 in the second year and EUR 400 in the last year for the full work month (36 hours per week). This does not include reimbursement for food and commuting costs. The act envisages the shared financing of practical training for employers until 2021. An unemployed person can also become an apprentice; in this case the person also receives the activity allowance as specified in the measures of the Active employment policy.

The new act strenghtened the role of chambers. These will verify the learning workplaces, annually prepare and publish the list of learning workplaces, run a record of employers, mentors, apprentices and registered apprenticeship contracts, advise companies, support apprentices in finding an employer, cooperate with the schools and the companies in preparation of the apprenticeship plan, organise interim exams and perform other tasks specified by the act.

The pilot implementation of the apprenticeship for four education programmes (stonemason, gastronomic and hotel services, joiner, metal shaper – toolmaker) has started from 2017/18, run by CPI.