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Estonia: Graduates recommend apprenticeship

Results of a survey carried out in late 2018 show that the experience of apprenticeship graduates with schools and enterprises is predominantly positive. Apprentices are mainly motivated by professional self-improvement and a desire to obtain a professional certificate. Most graduates would recommend apprenticeships to others.

The aim of the survey was to receive feedback from apprenticeship graduates on the organisation of learning, get an overview of the study process, and learn about their future career paths.

The survey revealed that information on apprenticeship is spread mostly through employers (96% of graduates). In addition, 39% received information from a vocational educational institution website or from a teacher of that institution.

Most graduates (68%) had previously worked in the company where their apprenticeship took place. The main motivation for learning was professional development and a desire to obtain a professional certificate. Motivation also depended on learners’ prior education background: those with a lower level of education wanted to obtain a professional certificate, and those with higher education wanted to change speciality or job. Almost all learners (93%) rated their motivation to graduate successfully as high.

The school’s primary role in providing apprenticeship was to share information, experience, knowledge and skills, and to find teachers with the necessary professional knowledge and teaching skills. Almost all graduates (95%) thought the overall school experience was good and most of them were satisfied with their school supervisor.

Graduates who participated in the focus groups shared varied experiences and assessments of apprenticeship. Graduates who responded to the web questionnaire were generally positive about the general aspects of apprenticeship. They valued highly the clarity of the learning objectives and the assessment, the availability and adequacy of the learning materials and the learning duration. They were more critical of the information flow between the school, the company, and the learner, and the balance between theory and practice.

Most focus group participants and over half of the graduates who responded to the web questionnaire (63%) continued working in the same position and company where the apprenticeship took place. Some 9% of the graduates continued in the same company but in a different position, and 8% in the same position in another company. They mentioned several work-related changes as positive outcomes, such as the possibility to choose a job, promote oneself in the labour market, and the opportunity to earn more due to more diverse tasks, etc. Wider positive effects such as higher self-esteem and better contact with management or colleagues were also mentioned. More than half of the graduates (57%) felt more professionally competent, had higher self-esteem, and were more aware of their rights and opportunities. The majority of the focus groups participants and 93% of the total graduates would recommend apprenticeship to other students.

To organise apprenticeship better, it was recommended to broaden awareness-raising activities and to harmonise the quality of schools subjects, teachers, and equipment. They also recommended finding more companies who offer apprenticeship, collaborating with them more extensively, and allowing apprentices to work more independently with equipment and learning tools.

The survey was commissioned by the Innove Foundation in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Research, and financed by the European Social Fund. It was conducted among those who graduated apprenticeship programmes in 2015-18 (1 428 people). A total of 26 people participated in the focus group discussions and 499 responded to the online questionnaire (35%).

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Töökohapõhise õppe lõpetajate uuring 2018 [Workplace based learning graduates study 2018]