From 1 September, the Practice of Apprenticeship Returns to the Education System

From 1 September 2017, the practice of apprenticeship returns to the vocational education system in Slovenia. It will affect future carpenters, masons, toolmakers and hospitality industry workers. These professions were selected by experts, representatives of the Ministry of Science and Education of Slovenia, educational institutions and the economy because of their relevance in the labour market.

This system will be introduced in seven secondary vocational colleges in the new academic year. The number of secondary school graduates entering secondary vocational colleges in the 2017/2018 academic year is 18,506 (in 2016–2017, this number was 18,364 people).

Given the small number of colleges where programmes with apprenticeships will be implemented, and the fact that in the first year, such training will concern listeners of only four programmes, the Chamber of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (OZS) believes that in the autumn this practice will cover 50 students. However, already within 3 years after the adoption of the law, the Ministry expects up to 200 apprenticeship participants per each course.

Among 37 graduates of 9-year secondary schools, the greatest interest was shown in the profession of a toolmaker (18 people in Škofja Loka training centre and 4 people in the secondary vocational college Bežigrad). Seven students chose the “Gastronomy and Hotel Services” programme in the secondary vocational college of Izola and in the secondary vocational college of hotel services and tourism in Radenci. The only application for carpenter training was filed at the Novo Mesto Educational Centre. There were no applications for similar apprenticeship practice at the Slovenj Gradec Education Centre and for mason training in the Ljubljana Vocational College of Construction, Geodesy and Environmental Sciences.

The Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Science and Education will cover part of expenses incurred by Slovenian employers. Employers undertake to pay a monthly bonus to students: 250 euros at the 1st course, 300 euros at the second course, and 400 euros at the 3rd course. Each student must be insured for the event of an occupational injury or occupational disease. Before the apprenticeship starts, each candidate will have to undergo a physical examination. In the event of violating provisions of the contract on student obligations, employers have the right to terminate such contracts, while students can terminate the contract at any time.

The reform of the vocational education system and the introduction of apprenticeship practice by the end of 2021 will cost about 2.7 million euros, wherein the majority of the amount (2.1 million euros) is allocated by the European funds. To encourage employers involved into the apprenticeship system, 28.4 million euros are provided, of which 22.7 million euros are provided by the European funds.

The reintegration of the apprenticeship practice was one of the priorities of the Chamber of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. Representatives of the Chamber draw attention to the fact that in the next academic year more funds will be needed to promote apprenticeships in Slovenia. First and foremost, the Chamber experts mention that the mentality of parents and future apprentice trainees, as well as students of basic and secondary schools, should be changed, with respect to secondary vocational education and apprenticeship. It is necessary to try to convince them that the apprenticeship is aimed at creating new jobs and career prospects, which many still do not realize.

An apprentice trainee will have a legally protected status and will spend at least 50% of the study time in practice. During the period of employment, students, according to the Law on Labour Relations, will have guaranteed legal protection, as well as salary.