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Reference Year 2019

Understanding of apprenticeships in the national context

Q2. Is there an official definition of ‘apprenticeship’ or ‘apprentice’ in your country?


Apprenticeships are broadly defined as a form of “workplace training” by the Regulation on Workplace Training 840/2011. The regulation does not provide a clear definition, and vernacular use of the term “workplace training” and related terms are often unclear (a case of the jingle-jangle fallacy), sometimes referring to apprenticeship as defined by Cedefop (, but sometimes used to refer to short-term work placement within course modules where students receive credit for participation (unpaid). This lack of clear definitions is problematic, and stakeholders are aware of it.

Q3. At which level do apprenticeship schemes exist in your country?

At upper secondary level
At post-secondary (not tertiary)
At tertiary level
At sectoral level

When discussing apprenticeships (starfsmenntun) in the context of vocational education and training (VET), the schemes are numerous and organized within particular sectors (builders, hairdressers, electricians etc.) but all at upper secondary level.

However, there is long tradition within some higher education (tertiary level) professions of work-based training periods, as in health care (doctors, nurses, teachers, etc.). These are never referred to as apprenticeships in the same way as when discussing VET but are a form of apprenticeships.

In this fiche the discussion focuses on apprenticeships at the upper secondary level.

Q4. How well-established are apprenticeship schemes in your country?

A long history (before 2000)
A recent history (in 2000s)
Pilot scheme

Due to its historical association, Iceland took over the Danish apprenticeship system when a VET system was set up. The first legislation regulating apprenticeship learning was introduced in 1893. About half of all learners in initial vocational education and training (IVET) train as apprentices.

Q5. Relevant information that is essential to understanding the specificity of apprenticeships in the country and which does not fit under the scheme specific sections below.