Reference year 2019

    Understanding of apprenticeships in the national context

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

    According to Article 1 of the Joint Ministerial Decision 26385/16-2-2017 “Quality Framework for Apprenticeship” (Gazette 491/ B/20.02.2017), “Apprenticeship is defined as the educational system in which learning alternates between workplace and educational institution. The Apprentice signs an Apprenticeship Contract with the employer, receives remuneration or allowance under applicable law, and has insurance coverage. Apprenticeship is implemented based on specific curriculum, designed by the relevant Authorities (e.g. Institute of Educational Policy). The employer is responsible for providing learning based on a specific programme (minimum indicative leaning activities), which, in conjunction with the learning programme offered by the educational institution leads to a professional specialization. Workplace Learning Program defines all learning activities and includes knowledge, skills and/or completed professional activities/tasks and other projects described in a relevant learning agreement and is an annex to the Apprenticeship contract.”

    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
    1. The EPAS apprenticeship scheme at upper secondary level (qualifications at NQF/EQF level 4), offered mostly under the supervision of the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) of the Ministry of Labor (also referred to as OAED apprenticeship). This strand is planned to be continued up until the school year 2020/21, at which point the schools’ operation will be evaluated. OAED has successfully implementing the system of Apprenticeship in Greece since 1952.
    2. The post-secondary EPAL apprenticeship scheme (qualifications at NQF/EQF level 5), offered by EPAL schools under the supervision of Ministry of Education (fully titled as ‘Post-secondary year-Apprenticeship class’. The new EPAL apprenticeship scheme combines theoretical and laboratory/workshop sessions at school with practical training in companies and organizations. This scheme lasts for about 9 months and it an option for upper secondary EPAL graduates. This educational pathway was implemented in 2016. Apprentices have the possibility after completing the scheme to receive an NQF level 5 certificate after successful participation in national exams organized by the National Organization for the Certification of Qualifications & Vocational Guidance.
    3. IEK Apprenticeship is an option (in the post-secondary initial vocational training programmes (one semester, alternative to internships that are most frequently used), offered by Institutes for Vocational Training (IEK). Learners, after completion of their programme (3-5 semesters in total) have the possibility to receive an NQF level 5 certificate after successful participation in national exams organized by the National Organization for the Certification of Qualifications & Vocational Guidance.
    Q4. How well-established are apprenticeship schemes in your country?
    A long history (before 2000)
    A recent history (in 2000s)
    Pilot scheme
    1. The EPAS apprenticeship scheme represents the traditional apprenticeship scheme in Greece, run under the supervision of the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) of the Ministry of Labor.
    • Royal Decree 14/03.06.1952 established the Technical Apprenticeship Schools which belonged to the Ministry of Labor.
    • Legal Decree 3971/02.09.1959 introduced the principle of dual learning.
    • Law 576/1977 (Gazette 102/A/13.4.1977) attempted to completely redraw the field of technical and vocational education in the country with the distinction of technical and vocational education in upper-secondary and post-secondary education: the upper-secondary education contains the Technical Vocational Schools (TES) and the Technical and Vocational Lyceum (TEL), while the post-secondary education was to be provided to the Higher Technical and Vocational Schools (ATES). 
    1. The EPAL apprenticeship scheme (“Post-Secondary year - Apprenticeship class”) was foreseen by law 4186/2013 but was further operationalized and implemented for the first time in 2016 with two pilot projects in the area of Attica and Thessaloniki under Law 4386/2016. Since its pilot introduction, the scheme has become mainstream, offered across the country in a growing number of schools and specialties to an increasing number of apprentices.
    2. The IEK apprenticeship offered by Institutes for Vocational Training (IEK was piloted in 2018 for the first time, under Law 4386/2016. Given the recent introduction of the IEK apprenticeship and the still low number of enrollments, the scheme is still considered as a pilot and is not further explored with a dedicated scheme fiche.


    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 Greece VET often seemed incomplete and disorganized and as a result it was almost always a second choice. Moreover, there were significant structural weaknesses such as low attractiveness, high school drop-out rates, discontinuity and lack of focus on policy design and implementation, large percentage of disappointed and often frustrated teachers, and unclear connection of VET with the labour market. However, there was ground on which to support VET upgrade, such as the technical equipment and infrastructure and highly qualified teachers.  Furthermore, a strong incentive to improve VET was the fact that it is chosen by a large percentage of students with social, economic and family problems, with learning difficulties, low self-esteem or low expectations.

    Keeping in mind, firstly the existing strengths, the wish to support those in need of help and finally the economic and social crisis that started tormenting Greece a decade ago, the Greek Ministry of Education drew up a detailed Strategic Plan for VET in 2016 with a view to upgrading secondary vocational education and training thus responding to the need for economic recovery and paving the way to reducing youth unemployment.

    Before the agreed Strategic Plan for VET between European Commission and the Greek Authorities the apprenticeship system in Greece was developed in a piecemeal fashion: each line ministry had established its own rules. In effect, the system was highly fragmented and there were no common rules as regards a series of features (e.g. content and duration of practical exercise, terms of remuneration, legal rights of graduates with respect to professions, etc.).

    According to the Strategic Plan for VET, new national level bodies are introduced to increase cooperation and coordination in apprenticeship provision, bringing together Ministries of Education and LAbour, OAED (the Greek PES providing EPAS apprenticeship), national institutions responsible for Qualifications and Educational Policy, and in certain cases also social partners, chambers, regional authorities etc.

    According to the Strategic Plan for VET, there are guidelines that the country has to follow in order to achieve VET upgrade:

    • To regulate VET systems and monitor the implementation of the strategic goals of VET
    • To reinforce and improve the social perception of VET
    • To actively promote and enhance the existing EPAL apprenticeship program.
    • To strengthen the link among VET, the labor market and society
    • To upgrade VET quality
    • To enhance VET effectiveness
    • To enhance VET attractiveness
    • To achieve and maintain a high standard in vocational training
    • To ensure and deploy VET infrastructure in public schools
    • To enhance permeability and cross-border mobility in VET

    Implementation of the reform proved to be a challenge as the establishing of the regulatory basis demanded laws/amendments, one presidential decree, eleven Joint Ministerial Decisions and eighteen Ministerial Decisions. Law 4610/2019 integrated all the amendments related to apprenticeship and addressed the issue of VET graduates' access to tertiary education. This issue needed to be addressed due to a recent restructure of tertiary education which led to Technical Education Institutions being merged in Universities. At this point, the legislative framework regulating upper secondary VET and apprenticeship is considered complete. 

    • Law 4186/2013: It lays the foundation for VET and the apprenticeship class (not implemented from 2013-2016).
    • Law 4386/2016: It develops VET and its new structure and the post-secondary apprenticeship class.
    • Ministerial Decision No 491/2017: It defines Apprenticeship Quality Framework
    • Ministerial Decision No 490/2017: It defines VET Curricula Quality Framework (including vocational education, apprenticeship scheme, initial and continuous vocational training) 

    There are other types of workplace-based learning arrangements that do not fit under the scheme-specific sections that should be taken into consideration:

    • Post-secondary vocational training institutes (public or private IEK) provide an option of six-month internships (as an alternative to apprenticeships, due to the lack of apprenticeship places and administrative issues).
    • Secondary and post-secondary schools supervised by ministries of tourism and agriculture offer programs with strong workplace training elements that are not formally regarded as apprenticeships or their schemes enroll a very small number of students and are not further explored.
    • Higher education studies may include internships.

    Notable aspects of the variations in apprenticeship-type schemes in Greece:

    • Institutes for Vocational Training in Tourism sector are subject to the responsibility of the Ministry of Tourism.
    • Institutes for Vocational Training in Health sector are subject to the responsibility of the Ministry of Health
    • EPAS apprenticeships In Agriculture sector are supervised exclusively by the Ministry of Rural Development and Food.
    • Apprenticeships in Vocational Training Schools (SEK) were foreseen to replace the EPAS scheme but due to low interest, inter alia, they were permanently abolished on 31/8/2019.