Technology-driven transformations in apprenticeships

Emerging trends

New technologies have been transforming the delivery of apprenticeship programmes, particularly in terms of methodologies and location. Advances in ICT tend to blur the conventional boundaries between workplace and classroom, where on- and off-the-job training has traditionally taken place. In recent years, teleworking has become increasingly common – some people work remotely, at home or at multiple sites. At the same time, e-learning platforms have also transformed off-the-job training, which traditionally involved face-to-face teaching. Today, the conventional day-release arrangement for apprentices may no longer be relevant, since online learning can take place in almost any location.

Recognizing the ongoing process of digitalization of education and training systems, this Toolkit offers a range of digital technology tools that play an integral part in the design, delivery, monitoring and evaluation of apprenticeship programmes. Such tools not only enrich apprentices’ learning process and encourage their greater engagement, but they are also used by employers to enhance the attractiveness of apprenticeships. Furthermore, technology tools also facilitate the acquisition of technical, transferable and digital skills, thereby improving apprentices’ employability and adaptability to the changing world of work (see box 7.1).

The effective use of new technologies can improve apprenticeship programmes by supporting practitioners in the following ways:

  • Promoting apprenticeships, through platforms that use different media to reach out, inform and attract people to apprenticeships and professions/trades, as well as online vocational and career guidance (Tools 5.1.3, 5.1.4 and 5.8.1.), including online match-making platforms that connect schools and colleges with volunteers from a range of sectors and professions (Tool 5.1.8) and conferencing software that brings together apprentices and employers from local and national enterprises (Tool 5.1.9).
  • Recruiting apprentices through match-making platforms for apprenticeships that provide information about available apprenticeship vacancies and apprenticeship candidates in a given area and occupation (Tools 5.2.1 and 6.8.1), as well as online tests designed to support the selection of future apprentices, allowing an optimal match between training enterprises and apprentices (Tool 5.2.4).
  • Enhancing the learning experience through digitalized instructional and learning media, and incorporating different learning methods that supplement more traditional ones, such as interactive e-books with embedded videos and 3D animated models, as well as video lectures and mobile apps (Tools 2.4.2, 2.4.3 and 5.4.6). Furthermore, providing better integrated vocational education through online learning platforms that create shared digital spaces to capture learners’ workplace experiences and in which to compose formal learning journal entries, which foster peer-to-peer learning and support teachers in creating learning activities (Tool 2.4.1).
  • Using artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics to provide early warning about apprentices who are at risk of dropping out and to enhance the delivery of programmes and the learning experience. Predictive analytics (PA) identify the various profiles or combinations of factors which might indicate, for example, the likelihood that an apprentice will drop out. PA can look at patterns in the responsiveness of tutors, determining how quickly work is assessed and returned to apprentices. It has the potential to match tutors with individual learners.1 MWS Technology Ltd have developed Aptem, a one-stop apprenticeship management app2 with built-in machine learning functionality for the United Kingdom.
  • Creating stronger relationships and promoting coordinated support between apprentices, enterprises and TVET providers, through portals that connect different learning venues, allowing all stakeholders to be informed of the vocational and academic progress of apprentices (Tool 2.4.1).
  • Monitoring of training through mobile logbooks that allow apprentices to record and demonstrate their learning and training progress, including details such as hours worked, tasks performed and equipment used (Tool 5.5.6), as well as (self-)assessment platforms that assess and broaden apprentices’ competencies and prepare them for the summative assessment or examination (Tool 5.5.2).

Box 7.1 Transformations in the delivery of apprenticeships

The following examples demonstrate the effective use of technology in creating personalized, flexible learning pathways.

Virtual apprenticeships

Virtual apprenticeships are conducted remotely, with learners interacting with their mentors and teams at the company entirely via digital communication tools. Typically, these types of arrangements lead to jobs which can be performed in a similar manner: programming, digital marketing, journalism, media-production, etc.

GenM is a company that offers virtual apprenticeships in marketing and has paired over 20,000 students with around 5,000 businesses. Under their programme, students first follow an online digital marketing curriculum and then interview various employers via a messenger app before signing a contract which pairs them with their chosen employer. For the next three months, the employers mentor the apprentices on a one-to-one basis by employing them on production tasks. After a three-month period, employers may hire the learner or gain access to another. The student may seek employment with the employer, look for employment elsewhere or list themselves as freelancers on a platform operated by GenM itself.

Plug-and-play learning in Malaysia

Selong Human Resource Development Centre (SHRDC) in Malaysia is working on digital apprenticeships by supporting the launch of a two-year master’s level apprenticeships. Using technology as part of the process, it is developing a plug-and-play curriculum in which different skill units are bundled in various configurations for different stakeholders and specific purposes. The technology can be set up in one common location with students logging in from any location to learn. Resources and assessments are also shared and are available 24/7. SHRDC can also operate personalized apprenticeship programmes.

The plug-and-play approach, delivering small chunks of learning, may become the norm in future – bearing in mind the fact that the curriculum is digital but also combined with a hands-on learning component. Apprenticeships, on average, require about 20 per cent of the training to be classroom-based instruction. SHRDC brings together mentors from industry to collate all the technology learned into an application based on performance and user experience.

e-Learning in New Zealand

MITO, an industry training organization, has introduced apprenticeship and training programmes for the New Zealand automotive industry, in which the theory component is delivered online as e-Learning courses. This approach allows apprentices to access online learning resources, including videos, interactive simulations and theory assessments, at any time and from any device – mobile phone, tablet or computer. Real-time results and progress reports are available through MITO’s online portal to both apprentice and supervisor. Furthermore, these programmes are supported by MITO’s e-Learning support services – facilitators who help learners with any issues they have while working through the e-Learning courses.

Source: ILO and UNESCO, forthcoming;

2 See for further details.