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Apprenticeship

Starfsnám
Iceland

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Reference Year 2019

Target group

Q6. Does the legal basis define the minimum and maximum age limits for enrolment of the target group of this scheme?

Minimum and maximum age limits defined
Minimum age limits defined only
Other

No minimum or maximum age is defined. According to the Upper Secondary School Act no. 92/2008, art. 32, any learner who has completed elementary school or equal basic education or has reached the age of 16 has the right to enrol in an upper secondary school.

Q7. What is the average age of learners in practice?

Between 15 and 18
Between 18 and 24
Above 24

Learners are found in all three age groups, but most are in the 18-24 bracket (Statistics Iceland)

Overview of the scheme

Q8. Is the scheme included in the ISCED 2011 mapping?

Yes
No

Programme No. 03.04.

Q9. Is there any organization at the national level with roles in co-ordinating the scheme?

Yes
No

The occupational councils, operating at sector level, are composed of representatives of the relevant social partners, i.e. trade unions and employers’ associations, and professional associations. The councils define the quality, competence, skills and knowledge requirements and work descriptions.

New study programmes are proposed by the upper secondary schools, in cooperation with the occupational councils, often at the initiative of the latter.

The Directorate of Education (State institution) liaises between the two and the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture confirms new study programmes.

Q10. When was the scheme introduced?

New pathway (after 2012)
Recently introduced (between 2000-2012)
Long history (before 2000)

The first legislation regulating apprenticeship learning was introduced in 1893.

Q11. How did the apprenticeship scheme originate?

Traditional craftsmanship (master-apprentice relation) to prepare apprentices for the occupation
School-based VET track by including more work-based learning to supply skilled workforce to match labour market needs
Ex-novo
Other

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.

Q12. What are the sources of financing of the direct costs for the in-company training part of the apprenticeship scheme?

Single employers hosting apprentices
Sectoral funds
State
Other

Employers are responsible for paying apprentices’ wages during the apprenticeship. However, since 2012 enterprises that offer work-based learning (incl. apprenticeships) can apply for grants (see Q13).

Q13. Are there any financial incentives for companies that offer apprenticeship places?

Yes, subsidies
Yes, tax deductions
Yes, other incentives
No financial incentives

Since 2012 enterprises that offer work-based learning (including apprenticeships) can apply for grants from the Workplace Training Fund (Act no. 71/2012). The main purpose of this fund is to assist enterprises to meet the extra costs incurred by hosting learners and apprentices, thus encouraging them to offer placements.

In 2018 the fund supported 15,328 learner-weeks by altogether approximately €1.5 million.

Q14. How many learners are enrolled in this scheme?

In 2017 a total of 6,344 learners were enrolled in VET studies at upper secondary school level.

Source: Statistics Iceland.

Q16. Which is the type of qualification obtained through the apprenticeship scheme?

Formal VET qualification (which does not indicate the pathway)
Formal VET qualification (which indicates the pathway)
Formal apprenticeship qualification (journeyman, etc.)
Others

A completed apprenticeship results in a journeyman’s certificate within a specific occupation.

Q17. Is the qualification included in the National Qualification Framework (NQF)?

Yes
No
There is no NQF

ISQF Level 3 (EQF level 4).

Q19. Does the scheme provide direct access to higher education?

Yes
No

People with qualifications from apprenticeships need some supplementary education in general subjects to enter higher education.

Programme

Duration

Q21. If the scheme is implemented via specific apprenticeship programme, what is its duration?

The duration of apprenticeships varies considerably by fields.

Within the certified trades alone (where a journeyman’s licence is required to work) the longest apprenticeship scheme (culinary fields) is 126 weeks and the shortest are 24 weeks (f.i. dressmaking and tailoring).

Others common durations are 48, 60, 72, 96 weeks.

Q22. If the scheme is not implemented via specific apprenticeship programme, how is duration of apprenticeships defined in the regulation?

It Is defined as minimum and maximum share of a VET programme
Is defined as minimum share of a VET programme
Is defined as maximum share of a VET programme
Is not defined by regulation
Other

Curriculum and length of individual apprenticeship programmes are decided by the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and are based on recommendations from the so called occupational councils, consisting of representatives of the social partners and professional organizations.

These are subsequently included in the National Curriculum Guide for Upper Secondary schools, issued by the Ministry of Education as guidelines for schools (Upper Secondary Education Act no. 92/2008). 

IVET programmes delivered as apprenticeships typically start off with a period of 4-6 semesters basic training at school, after which the remaining time of the apprenticeship is spent in an enterprise.

Apprenticeship programmes last from 3 to 5 years, including basic training at school. The ratio between time spent in school and in an enterprise varies from 1:1 to 3:1 (e.g. hairdresser: 5 semesters at school and 72 weeks of practical training; electrician: 6 semesters of school followed by 48 weeks in an enterprise.

Q23. Is there a distinction between the training time and working time for the period spent at workplace, as per regulation?

Yes, the legal framework makes this distinction
No, the legal framework makes no distinction

There are learning objectives for the time spent in the placement enterprise, but there is no distinction between time spent on training and work. 

Alternation of work-based (in-company) training and school-based training

Q24. Is it compulsory to alternate training between two learning venues (school and company)?

Yes
No

VET may be both school-based and apprenticeship-based.

For all apprenticeships, however, time in the hosting enterprise constitutes an integral part of the programme.

Q25. Is the in-company training defined as minimum share of the apprenticeship scheme duration?

Yes, equivalent or more than 50% of scheme duration
Yes, between 20% and 50% of the scheme duration
Yes, less than 20% of the scheme duration
No, no minimum share is compulsory

Curriculum and length of individual apprenticeship programmes are decided by the Ministry of Education based on recommendations from the occupational councils and are subsequently included in the National Curriculum Guide for Upper Secondary schools (see more in Q22).

In the General Curriculum for each trade, the time spent at a workplace is tied down in weeks. This varies greatly between different apprenticeship programmes. The occupational councils will devise criteria for the division of learning between school-based and work-based learning.

Individuals enrolling in VET with relevant previous experience may have this recognised through an APL (accreditation of prior learning) procedure, thus shortening the total duration of their apprenticeship pathway.

Q26. What is the form of alternation of training between workplace (company) and school?

Every week includes both venues
One or more weeks (less than 1 month) spent at school followed by one or more weeks at workplace
One or more months (less than 1 year) spent at school followed by one or more months at workplace
A longer period (1-2 years) spent at school followed by a longer period spent training at workplace
Various – depends on agreements between the school and the company
Other
Not specified

This varies by field.

In some cases, learners start their programme with basic training at the vocational school. This lasts typically from 4 to 6 semesters, after which they sign an apprenticeship contract with an enterprise for the remaining time of the programme.

In other cases, the learners come back to school for a final semester to prepare for the journeyman’s exam. In yet other cases, the learners can start working as apprentices before signing up for school.

Formal relationship with the employer

Q27. Is any contractual arrangement between the learner and company, required as per regulation?

Yes
No

The contract stipulates status (as apprentice), pay, working hours, insurance and the right to receive training and to attend school.

Q28. What is the nature of the contractual arrangement?

Apprenticeships are a specific type of contract
Apprenticeships are an ordinary employment contract
A formal agreement

Formally, apprentices are employed by the hosting enterprise.

Q29. Where is the contract or the formal agreement registered?

At the school
At the Ministry of employment
At the chambers
At the Ministry of education
Other

The vocational school registers the contract. The contract is also managed by educational provider/organization as a proxy for the Ministry of education (outsourced by).

Q30. What is the status of the learner?

Apprentice is a specific status
Student
Employee
Other

“Apprentice” is a specific status but has in many ways the same rights and obligations as an employee (e.g. concerning insurance).

Compensation

Q31. Do apprentices receive a wage or allowance?

Yes, all apprentices receive a wage (taxable income)
Yes, all apprentices receive an allowance (not a form of taxable income)
Apprentices receive a reimbursement of expenses
No form of compensation is foreseen by law

During their in-company training, apprentices are paid wages like all other employees, according to a special pay scale for apprentices. This income is taxable.

Q32. How is the apprentice wage (taxable income) set?

By law (applying for all)
By cross-sectoral collective agreements at national or local level
By sectoral collective agreements at national or local level
By firm-level collective agreements or individual agreements between apprentice and company
Other
 

Q33. Who covers the cost of the wage or allowance of the apprentice?

Employers
State
Other

Wages to the apprentice are paid by the employer, who can apply for a subsidy from a State-financed workplace training fund.

Q34. Does the wage or allowance of the apprentice cover both the time spent at school and in the company?

Yes
No, it covers only the time spent in the company
 

Responsibility of employers

Q35. Is the company hosting apprentices required by regulation to follow a training plan at the workplace?

Yes, the training plan is agreed at the level of school and company
Yes, the training plan is based on the national/sectoral requirements for the in-company training
No, is not required formally

The apprenticeship contract ensures the learner’s right to training.

The occupational councils (see Q25 above) will set objectives for the workplace training.

Q36. What are the requirements on companies to provide placements, as per regulation?

Have to provide a suitable learning environment
Have to provide a mentor / tutor / trainer
Other

The Regulation on Workplace Training 840/2011 stipulates, i.a., that:

- The hosting enterprise must appoint a supervisor trained in mentoring new recruits, who possesses good skills in human relations and has an overview of aims and functions at the workplace.
- The hosting enterprise is responsible for providing an adequate training environment for the apprentice.
- The hosting enterprise must possess adequate facilities, professional expertise and learning opportunities, along with machinery, tools and equipment which the profession requires.
- The hosting enterprise must have at least one employee who is trained (possesses qualifications at journeyman’s level) in the relevant field. 

Enterprises must be approved by the occupational councils (see above) to train apprentices, based on the demands listed above. Enterprises that do not fulfil these obligations may forfeit the right to train apprentices.

It is voluntary for enterprises, however, to decide whether they want apprentices or not.

Q37. Are there any sanctions on companies that do not provide training to apprentices at the workplace?

Yes
No

 There are no sanctions for enterprises which do not train apprentices.

Q38. What is the role of chambers, employers’ and employees’ representatives, sectoral councils (if existent), in shaping apprenticeship content, as per regulation?

Role in designing qualification
Role in designing curricula
Other
No role

The social partners regulate issues concerning apprenticeships through collective agreements (e.g. wage levels) and through the occupational councils. According to the Upper Secondary School Act no. 92/2008, it is the task of the councils to:

  • To propose general study objectives and define the needs for knowledge and skills on which to base study programme descriptions for the occupations concerned and which form part of the general part of the National Curriculum Guide for Upper Secondary Schools, and to make proposals for learning outcomes;
  • To devise criteria for the division of study programmes into school-based and work-based learning;
  • To make proposals regarding the structure and content of examinations in individual occupations;
  • To keep a record of companies and workplaces that meet the requirements for providing work-based learning;
  • To make proposals for study programme descriptions for individual study programmes, intended as guidelines for upper secondary schools

Q39. What is the role of chambers, employers’ and employees’ representatives in implementing the apprenticeship scheme, as per regulation?

Role in final assessment of apprentices
Role in accreditation of companies
Role in monitoring of the in-company training
Other
No role

The social partners have an indirect role in, i.a., the accreditation of companies. See above (Q36, Q38), on the role of the occupational councils, which are comprised of representatives of the relevant social partners and professional organizations