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Lithuania: new steps to implement apprenticeships in VET

In 2019, a new regulation was approved detailing the procedure for organising vocational education and training (VET) in the form of apprenticeship. It is expected that the new system will attract more learners in training programmes to acquire new skills and a professional qualification.

Resolution No 1065 of 23 October 2019 regulates apprenticeships in (a) formal VET programmes, (b) vocational modules included in the national register of qualifications (Studijų, mokymo programų ir kvalifikacijų registras), and (c) non-formal VET programmes or module(s) of such programmes.

The apprenticeship contract – How it works

In 2017, a new type of employment contract – the apprenticeship contract, with or without learning agreements – was introduced in the Labour Code. Follow-up amendments in the Labour Code and the 2019 resolution (implementing provisions of the 2017 Law on VET) regulate apprenticeship as a form of training organisation.

In formal VET, apprentices sign a contract with the company providing the practical training, while a learning agreement is signed between the company and the VET institution. Learners enrolled in a formal VET programme (or module) may follow the practical training at the VET institution’s partner. They may also find a company providing practical training themselves; if the company is licensed for VET, it organises both the theoretical and practical parts of the given VET programme; if not, it has to find a licensed partner to deliver the theory part.

A VET provider, alone or together with its partner employer, organises an apprentice selection in accordance with the conditions published on the provider’s website. Employers select apprentices from those listed online, on condition that learners have been previously admitted to a school-based VET programme. Such a selection is recommended to be organised not earlier than two months after the beginning of the training programme. This period is necessary for the learner to become acquainted with the VET programme, to decide whether he/she has chosen the right programme, and to acquire primary practical training skills to be evaluated by the employer when choosing an apprentice and future employee.

Employers concluding an apprenticeship contract without a learning agreement with a VET institution may independently select apprentices from those interested in non-formal (modules of) training programmes. Employers who have a learning agreement with a VET provider can offer an apprenticeship contract at any time of the year, independently of the start of the academic school year.

Roles and responsibilities

VET providers and employers cooperate in the planning and implementation of apprenticeship in formal VET, exchange information on applicants, etc. Employers also have a legal obligation to ensure that, after completion of the VET programme, apprentices participate in competence assessment (carried out by accredited competence assessment institutions) to have their learning outcomes evaluated and recognised towards a (partial) VET qualification.

The Qualifications and Vocational Education and Training Development Centre (QVETDC) manages the national register of qualifications, the sectoral qualifications standards, and the development of national modular VET programmes. It provides methodological assistance and guidance on apprenticeship to both VET providers and employers. It also keeps a register of VET providers and publishes information on VET programmes that can be delivered in conjunction with an apprenticeship contract on its website.

Apprenticeship is gaining popularity

In 2018, according to the register of learners, 3 449 of them were following a training programme as apprentices: 862 in initial VET and 2 587 in continuing VET. Although the number of apprentices more than doubled in the period 2014-18, the share of apprentices accounts for only about 3% of all VET learners. In 2018, about 40% of VET institutions offered apprenticeships.

The aim of the new legal arrangements is to develop further the apprenticeship system so that by 2020-21 at least 20% of the graduates of VET programmes or their modules are trained using the apprenticeship option.

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