In recent years, apprenticeship has been recognised as a valuable part of vocational education and training (VET). It strengthens cooperation between schools and companies and links the labour market with the education system.

Current debate on apprenticeship in Slovenia takes place at a high policy level and involves various social partners. To prepare for the apprenticeship system, the key institution for VET development - the Institute of the republic of Slovenia for VET (CPI) – is participating in different EU projects. Some of these projects support national policy reform (Erasmus + Key Action 3 and Interreg) while others enable cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices (Erasmus + Key Action 2). Currently there are six projects to support implementation of a quality and sustainable new apprenticeship system.

New models of work-based learning (NewWBL) as a support for policy reform

Through this project, work-based learning (WBL) models are developing to inform and guide policies. The key question of this project is not whether WBL works, but to understand under what conditions and for which purposes WBL works best. Information on development strategies and company needs is being collected in partner countries and WBL reviewed in relation to this information. The next step is development of flexible operational models for WBL that respond to different needs and preparing recommendations and guidelines for adoption of these models.

Service for apprenticeship (SERFA): non-financial support measures for companies

SMEs are the backbone of the European economy and provide around two-thirds of private sector employment in the EU. Yet they often struggle to provide apprenticeship opportunities. Some of the most common reasons include lack of training infrastructure and staff to mentor apprentices, as well as insufficient expertise and capacity to manage complex rules, employment law and administrative requirements. Traditionally, to meet these challenges, governments focus more on targeted support (like financial incentives) and on measures for SMEs to be involved in apprenticeship (like infrastructure support). Although this kind of support is important, it is not very effective if a company does not have the experience and expertise to manage the overall process. SMEs need different, non-financial support measures to help them implement apprenticeship properly. The design and provision of such support measures is the main objective of the SERFA project.

Learning by doing: targeted capacity building of VET partnerships in the Danube Region for the effective modernisation of VET systems

The main goal of the project is strengthening the roles of stakeholders involved in VET in the Danube Region. Increasing the quality of WBL and VET in general is expected as a result. The regional/national challenges and existing or missing capacities will be identified and strengthened by cooperation of local stakeholders. National strategies and policy recommendations related to WBL will be prepared. A guidebook for more efficient WBL is being prepared and a WBL observatory in the Danube Region will be established.

See the goal: learning outcomes as video recordings

One of the key challenges in today’s WBL is the quality and transparency of the learning outcomes built through in-company training. Training quality impacts the motivation and retention of students, their learning results and scores in final examinations, as well as payback rate for the training companies. Typically, learning outcomes are mentioned in official regulations and/or guidelines. Various evaluations have shown that there is a general need to make learning outcomes more transparent and easier to adapt in training practice. One approach to addressing the challenge of applying clear and practice-close learning outcomes is video technology. In See the Goal, video-recordings will be used to support the design, communication, training and self-assessment of in-company learning outcomes.

Cooperative and work-integrated curriculum (CWIC): student as a partner in planning and conducting WBL

The CWIC project aims to develop new methods for cooperation between teacher, student and in-company mentor. The emphasis is on extending and deepening the student’s real work experiences, to develop a learning process focused on reflection and communication upon work and to aid achievement of specific learning outcomes.

Skills 4 work: improving the quality of WBL through continuous professional development of VET teachers

This project aims to improve the quality of WBL through practical implementation of different WBL approaches and with feedback from companies. The emphasis is on learning from each other’s experience and engaging in real dialogue with employers by developing the model in collaboration with local companies. The project will benefit VET teachers by creating continuous professional development materials and transnational transfer of good practice through joint peer learning events.