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.