The cornerstone of the new apprenticeship system is the introduction of the optional post-secondary year apprenticeship class. This allows school-based VET (EPAL) graduates (as well as former TEE graduates, an EPAL equivalent) to participate in a one-year apprenticeship class: 28 hours per week at the workplace, seven hours at school. This new system is to be introduced gradually by the Ministry of Education for the 2016/17 school year. EPAL schools and the public employment service (OAED) will share responsibility for attracting companies and placing students at work.
The new legislation:
- foresees that EPAL graduates studying in the apprenticeship class will receive a wage and enjoy full rights based on a contract they sign with the company;
- describes conditions under which learning takes place, such as avoiding an overlap of school and work within the same day, and ensuring that workshops (laboratory courses) are taught exclusively in EPAL and laboratory centres by teachers already working there, while this takes place within the school year.
- addresses operational issues and sets responsibilities. For example, the EPAL school is responsible for monitoring apprentices, EPAL teachers are responsible for supervision, contracts are obligatory, rights of learners are guaranteed, and the OAED role is determined.
A joint ministerial decree (May 2016) foresees all details of implementation of a pilot apprenticeship class in partnership with regional authorities and businesses, in the case of two EPAL programmes.
Apart from the year-long apprenticeship class, since 2015 apprenticeships have also been an option at post-secondary VET through IEK programmes (two and a half years long, six months of practical training or apprenticeships). Law 4386/2016 extends the longstanding EPAS apprenticeship programmes offered by OAED until 2021/22.
These developments are in line with the recently drafted VET and apprenticeships strategy and the results of extensive social dialogue on Greek education and training reform.
Within the new EPAL structure, the apprenticeship class option is considered a way to avoid early specialisation by students and provide the solid general knowledge necessary for personal development. It provides a technological and professional knowledge base for VET learners, and contributes to their integration into the labour market, by bringing apprenticeship closer to actual working conditions.