Programme and project level

Apprenticeship … is a crucial part of our long-term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain. It will help give us the skills to compete with the rest of the world. And it will mean more hope, more opportunity, and more security for our young people, helping them get on in life and make something of themselves ..."

David Cameron (former UK Prime Minister), October 2014

This chapter explains the quality apprenticeship training life cycle and processes, detailing the successive elements in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of apprenticeship programmes. It also presents some national examples of guides, manuals or frameworks for developing apprenticeships.

Introduction: The quality apprenticeship training life cycle

Figure 2.1 illustrates the quality apprenticeship training life cycle, which consists of four stages. The development of programmes is undertaken in stage 1, preceding, or sometimes carried out simultaneously with, stage 2 – the preparation of training places. Once the required preparations are in place, apprenticeship programmes can be organized and delivered (stage 3). After completing the programme, each apprentice’s subsequent transition into employment or further education and training becomes one of the elements in the evaluation process (stage 4). The outcome of the evaluation, particularly in relation to the programme’s impact and lessons learned, serves as feedback for the stakeholders in the policy environment. The programme’s evaluation therefore informs the development or revision of national law, policies and systems, which in turn brings about improvements to the four stages of the quality apprenticeship life cycle. To ensure the quality and relevance of apprenticeships to the labour market, the six building blocks for quality apprenticeships should ideally underpin all four stages of the life cycle.

It is important to keep in mind that the illustration of the quality apprenticeship life cycle (figure 2.1) is a simplified presentation of what is actually a complex process. In reality, there could be many kinds of subtle interactions between various processes that cannot be captured in the diagram. The four stages do not necessarily progress in a linear manner but are highly likely to overlap. Furthermore, in practice, feedback is gathered not only towards the end of the life cycle as part of the evaluation, but as it is generated in each stage of the life cycle to inform every other stage and the policy environment.

Figure 2.1 The quality apprenticeship life cycle

Understanding the apprenticeship policy framework and system

As illustrated in figure 2.1, the policy environment, which includes the national law, policies and regulatory and institutional framework, determines the way in which apprenticeship programmes should be developed and implemented. Therefore, as a minimum requirement, it is necessary for practitioners to fully understand the national policy environment before embarking on the development of an apprenticeship programme. ILO evaluation tool for reviewing and assessing a country’s apprenticeship system is provided in tool 6.2.10.

Stages in the apprenticeship training life cycle

The four stages in the apprenticeship life cycle illustrated in figure 2.1 are explained in more detail below.

Stage 1: Developing quality apprenticeship programmes

Developing a programme is the first stage in the apprenticeship training life cycle. Practitioners should closely align the programme with both labour market demand and the country’s qualification system. Effective collaboration between employers’ and workers’ organizations, who are aware of labour market demand, and education and training specialists, who are familiar with qualification standards and curricula development, is therefore essential to achieve these aims. The following processes are usually involved in developing an apprenticeship programme (see chapter 3):

  • establishing an institutional framework for social dialogue
  • identifying skills needs in sectors and occupations
  • developing occupational profiles and curricula based on skills needs assessments
  • providing instructional and learning materials.

Video: World’s leading IT company and a university jointly developed apprenticeship programme:

Microsoft & Aston University Degree Apprenticeships,

Stage 2: Preparing quality training places

After developing a programme, the next stage is to ensure that all the training places have adequate facilities and systems and competent staff, as per the training regulation or curricula for a particular occupation or sector. In addition to an enterprise and a TVET centre, training can also take place in intermediary organizations. Therefore, in accordance with the quality assurance process, practitioners should support relevant institutions in preparing training places, which may involve the following aspects (see chapter 4):

  • engaging and registering enterprises for providing apprenticeships training
  • formulating apprenticeship agreements
  • building partnerships in apprenticeship programmes
  • ensuring the capacity of TVET providers to provide the off-the-job component of apprenticeships
  • preparing staff to train and mentor apprentices.

To ensure quality training, some countries prescribe a procedure for registering or accrediting various training places.

Stage 3: Organizing apprenticeship training

Having established the basic conditions for an apprenticeship programme, the next step is to organize and deliver apprenticeship training, which may involve the following (refer to chapter 5):

  • attracting candidates to participate in apprenticeship training
  • recruiting apprentices
  • developing a training plan
  • implementing effective training delivery methods
  • monitoring programmes, assessing competencies and certifying qualifications
  • ensuring social inclusion.

To deliver the training effectively, it is important to support apprentices throughout the programme and to monitor their progress. In accordance with the building blocks of quality apprenticeship, apprentice recruitment needs to comply with principles of fairness and inclusion. Prior to recruitment, special measures, such as pre-apprenticeships, may be undertaken to help those prospective apprentices who lack the skills and qualifications necessary to successfully gain admission and complete the programme.

Stage 4: Post-training transitions and evaluation

Following the successful completion of the programme, apprentices may enter the labour market or pursue further and higher qualifications. The various pathways undertaken by apprenticeship graduates over the short and longer term can serve as an indicator of the quality and effectiveness of an apprenticeship. Therefore, post-training evaluation of apprenticeship programmes takes account of “tracer” studies that examine apprentices’ transitions after their graduation. Evaluation is not an end in itself, as it creates a feedback loop for policy-makers and practitioners, enabling them to improve the policy environment and programmes.

Once again, the building blocks of quality apprenticeship systems underpin the different aspects of programme implementation. While evaluation is primarily designed to assess whether a programme facilitates successful transition to the labour market (the key test of labour market relevance), it should also reflect the requirements of an inclusive approach. Therefore, the transitions of disadvantaged groups and women should be separately identified and monitored. Chapter 6 has two sections that illustrate the following main processes:

  • transition to the labour market and further education and training
  • evaluation of apprenticeship programmes.