Only around 100 apprenticeship contracts were concluded in Romania in 2012 ‒ a negligible number. It shows that this form of training, which could play an important role in increasing participation of youngsters in vocational education and the labour market, has yet to become popular with Romanian employers. Causes have been multiple to date, among which the frequent changes to the Apprenticeship Act, a piece of legislation most employers have deemed restrictive, creating a host of obligations while offering little support to those willing to take apprentices on board.
In response, the Ministry of Labour decided to amend the legislation to encourage employers to engage in this combination of vocational education and training, and employment. Parliament started the debate early in the spring and swiftly adopted the amendments in May (see Romanian Official Journal No 348/2013). The changes aim at ensuring that:
- additional funding is available for subsidising employers engaging in apprenticeship; accordingly, apart from the unemployment insurance fund, ESF funds may now also be accessed. Previously, apprenticeship schemes were not eligible for funding from Romania’s main ESF cofinanced programme (sectoral operational program human resources development/RO: POSDRU);
- apprentices are trained by certified providers, at least for the theoretical part of the training. Previously, training was generally provided by the enterprises. However, enterprises were not able to award a nationally recognised qualification, as in most cases they were not certified adult training providers;
- all apprentices receive thus nationally recognised qualification certificates.
Currently, the Ministry of Labour is working on implementing the new version of the law which may help increase the number of apprenticeship contracts.
The Ministry is also the responsible body for implementation of the measure. Apprenticeships are financed by the State budget, the unemployment insurance fund and the ESF, to which employers or employer organisations, trade unions or other bodies may apply. The measure is complementary to the Traineeship Act (see Romania: the traineeship law) and is also part of Romania’s ‘youth guarantee scheme’.