Reference year 2019

    Understanding of apprenticeships in the national context

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

    Apprenticeship training is learning mainly at a workplace in practical job tasks complemented by studies in other learning environments if needed.

    Apprenticeship is a fixed term employment relationship or public service relationship between a student (at least 15 years old) and an employer (status: employed person; students are paid salary and employers are paid training compensation).

    In apprenticeship training the average weekly working hours must be at least 25 hours.

    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

    Apprenticeship in VET:

    • Initial vocational qualifications (EQF4)
    • Further vocational qualifications (EQF4)
    • Specialist vocational qualifications (EQF5)

    Apprenticeship training can cover an entire qualification or a qualification module or a smaller part of the studies.

    The scheme covers all fields of education offered by VET.  

    Q4. How well-established are apprenticeship schemes in your country?
    A long history (before 2000)
    A recent history (in 2000s)
    Pilot scheme

    The first act concerning apprenticeship was enacted in 1923. Legislation was reformed in 1967 and after that in 1983, 1988 and 1992. The latest reform of VET was enacted from 1.1.2018 ( > 531/2017).

    The 2018 reform brought the Acts of vocational upper secondary education and training and vocational adult education and training together in a single act, which form a consistent whole, including apprenticeship. By this new Act, vocational education and training is expected to respond more swiftly to the changes in work life and adapt to individual competence needs.

    The vocational education and training in Finland, including apprenticeship training, is based on the principle of lifelong learning (continuing learning).

    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.

    In Finland, apprenticeship training and work-based learning are widely recognized for their relevance to working life. This is reflected in the competence-based and custom-oriented approach taken to VET. All forms of institutional VET include work-based learning (WBL). There are two forms of WBL: apprenticeship training and training agreement.

    The apprenticeship is based on a fixed-term contract between the student and the employer. The student is full time worker and receives remuneration. Remuneration depends on the field and tasks of contract; it must be in compliance with the relevant collective agreement. The progress of wage in time is also defined in collective agreement. If there is no collective agreement in the field of work in question, the student must be paid a reasonable wage. The bases for remuneration are defined in an apprentice contract.

    In the training agreement the student is not in a contract of employment and does not receives any pay or other compensation.

    Both these forms of work-based learning can be flexible combined. As students find new work opportunities, they can flexibly switch between work-based learning agreements.

    In education and training organized at the workplace, the competence needs of the individuals and the workplace are taken into account. Work-based learning, including apprenticeship, is based on a personal competence development plan for the student. The plan is drawn up by a teacher or a guidance counsellor together with the student and representative of the world of work. No minimum or maximum amount has been set for competences to be acquired through practical tasks at the workplace. An apprenticeship agreement can cover the full qualification or a module, or to meet specific skills needs. A training agreement can cover only for a qualification module or for meeting specific skills needs, not a full qualification.

    In fact, no distinction is set between what is to be learned at the workplace and what to be learned in other environments (at the vocational institution, by online learning etc.). In apprenticeship, students gain most of the skills by completing practical job-specific tasks at the workplace. If everything can be learned at the workplace, there is no need to complement studies elsewhere. In practice it is common that learners complement their studies in other learning environments offered by the education provider. Students who learn skills at work during weekends, evenings or summer holidays may have them recognized as part of their studies.

    In Finland the apprenticeship training is an option for the entrepreneurs too. An entrepreneur´s apprenticeship agreement can be made for a self-employed person.

    Finland’s educational policy has created pathways that are open from basic education to higher education with no dead ends. Vocational graduates have general eligibility for further studies at polytechnics and universities, and this also applies to learners who participate in apprenticeships. Today, cooperation between secondary and tertiary VET is increasingly becoming a commonplace.

    Apprenticeship training is one equal form of training in the Finnish education system. It is especially popular with adult learners.