Steps and tips: Developing an institutional framework for social dialogue

To establish governance or an institutional framework for social dialogue, the entity or entities responsible for developing and implementing apprenticeship programmes (e.g. public authority, employers’ and workers’ organizations) should take the following steps in consultation with other stakeholders:

  • Identify the existing institutional framework for apprenticeship programme development, assess its effectiveness and, if necessary, strengthen it. The assessment of the institutional framework may take place during the process of assessing the apprenticeship policy environment.
  • In the event that no such mechanism exists, establish a multi-stakeholder platform (e.g. a working group or steering committee), preferably at the sectoral level, to guide programme development. Key stakeholders of the platform typically include:
    • employers’ organizations, including sectoral trade associations, chambers and other professional associations
    • workers’ organizations
    • government representatives from ministries of labour, education and other relevant sector ministries, relevant public authorities and TVET agencies and providers
    • youth organizations
    • civil society organizations.
  • Define the roles, responsibilities and funding of the working group(s).
  • Determine the entity that will host the working group(s) and secretariat. Depending on a country’s context, this could be an employer-led body or a government TVET agency. However, tripartite constituents may have equal authority in the decision-making processes of the group. For example, on the board of BIBB in Germany (Tool 3.1.3), each of the four main stakeholders – federal government, state governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations – have an equal voting share (25 per cent).
  • The multi-stakeholder working group can also support other processes, such as guiding assessment techniques and evaluating existing programmes.
  • At the local level, if needed, establish a working group to coordinate and support the implementation of apprenticeship programmes. This may be desirable when the programme is implemented in many geographical regions.


  • No one-size-fits-all solution – The roles of various stakeholders are not the same in every country. Many factors, including the political environment, social and economic policies, traditions and the capacity of stakeholders, influence the allocation of specific roles and responsibilities between different stakeholders. Nevertheless, it is recommended that policy-makers follow the principle of “employers in the driving seat” when determining the roles of stakeholders. For details, refer to Annex I.
  • When a country is starting an apprenticeship programme for the first time, stakeholders can work together through a steering committee or working group. As the programme expands, a more structured institutional framework is needed. For example, a steering committee and a technical working group were set up in Zanzibar, Tanzania to oversee the development and management of apprenticeship programmes (Tool 3.1.3).
  • Working groups which have decision-making powers are more effective than those which have purely advisory roles. Social dialogue is sustainable if all stakeholders are aware of the benefits to be gained by their participation.
  • To foster effective cooperation through social dialogue, trust-building measures and face-to-face contacts are helpful in overcoming barriers and building a strong connection between the various stakeholders.
  • To establish trust among partners, it is essential that the communication processes are transparent.