The new apprenticeship programme, the Post-secondary year - apprenticeship class of upper secondary vocational schools (EPAL), was initially launched by the education ministry in the school year 2016/17 aiming to offer to EPAL graduates the opportunity to upgrade their education qualifications and obtain work experience. Since then, participants have more than doubled (+231%), there are 49% more EPAL schools offering apprenticeship programmes, and there are 128% more apprenticeship programmes offered all over the country.
The Post-secondary year - apprenticeship class has been running for three years with promising results. In the current school-year it is running in 21 specialisations, five more than in 2017-18 and 15 more than in 2016-17. The number of learners has risen sharply from 1 118 in 2016/17 to 3 706 in 2018/19. In total there were 5 000 applications in 2018/19, marking a 50% raise in comparison to the previous year.
A figure that also highlights the successful expansion of the Post-secondary year - apprenticeship class is that almost half of the placements are in the private sector; this significantly increases participation by the private sector in the new apprenticeship programme from 25% in 2017/18 to 48% in in 2018/19 and signals that the reform is well-received by the labour market. Enterprises usually offer apprenticeship placements in the following specialisations: vehicle technician, installations and networks technician, cooling, ventilation and air-conditioning technician, food and drink technology technician and hairdresser.
The most popular specialisations are: vehicle technician (718 apprentices), assistant nurse (518 apprentices), electrical systems, installations and networks technician (390 apprentices), day-nursery assistant (344 apprentices) and administration and finance clerk (294 apprentices).
In 2018, certification examinations for graduates of the Post-secondary year - apprenticeship class were also carried out for the first time. 340 graduates of the first phase of the programme successfully completed the exams, which were organised by the National Organisation for the Certification of Qualifications and Vocational Guidance (EOPPEP).
The gradual expansion of the Post-secondary year - apprenticeship class is an essential part of the country’s strategy for upgrading VET; it also plays a central role in linking VET with the labour market and raising VET attractiveness.