Guidance, counselling and support services

A Quality Apprenticeship system should provide good information about career choices and employment prospects, as well as counselling and mentoring – before, during and after the apprenticeship. It helps young people make an informed choice about what apprenticeship and career they might take up, based on their skills and aptitude and what is required by the various occupations. It also helps to reduce gender segregation and is a tool for the inclusion of vulnerable groups and persons with disabilities. The effectiveness of guidance and counselling services increases if combined with personalized support. However, an ETUC report states that only 14 per cent of youth aged 15-24 years throughout the EU received advice from a guidance counsellor (ETUC/Unionlearn, 2016).

The counselling services are usually provided through the public employment services (PES). In some countries, the PES provide information and support to help a young person find an apprenticeship place, as well as post-employment counselling to help persons find employment. The services may also include training to develop core competences, interview skills, the preparation of résumés and job application.  

Guidance and mentoring during apprenticeships at the workplace and school improves completion rates. For example, a key success factor of Denmark’s Basic Vocational Education and Training Act (Erhvervsuddannelsesloven – EGU)  is the effective support and mentoring provided to the apprentice, together with an individualized approach towards his/her learning needs and abilities (European Commission, 2013b).

Supervisors and trainers in enterprises also require guidance and support services to be fully competent themselves in guiding and supervising the practical training of apprentices at the workplace. In Australia, the Department of Education and Training maintains a dedicated website1 to provide quick and easy access to information regarding Australian apprenticeships. The information includes:

  • Australian Apprenticeship Support Network providers (Apprenticeship Network provider) (box 35)
  • Australian Apprenticeships programmes
  • Employer incentives
  • Information and support for apprentices looking to start their own business
  • Support and assistance for apprentices during their apprenticeships
  • Support and advice for people looking to start apprenticeships, whether in school, just out of school, or mature-age.

Box 5: Australian Apprenticeship Network

The Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (Apprenticeship Network) will provide advice and support services tailored to the needs of employers and apprentices throughout the apprenticeship lifecycle – from pre-commencement to completion - through:

  • Universal services for all employers and apprentices, providing essential administrative support, payment processing and regular contact; and
  • Targeted services for employers and individuals assessed as needing additional support to complete the apprenticeship.

New pre-commencement services including screening, testing and job-matching will be available to targeted clients to get the right apprentice in the right apprenticeship with the right employer. New targeted in-training support services, such as mentoring, will help apprentices and employers at-risk of not completing the apprenticeship arrangement to work through issues and difficulties. Apprenticeship Network providers can also provide assistance to individuals who may be unsuited to an apprenticeship to identify alternative training pathways.

Source: Australian Government, 2017b.

As part of Lithuania’s vocational activation policy, students in general education schools visit enterprises to become familiar with real work places. VET providers also organize career days and visitor days, when students present the advantages of VET to their peers in general education schools.

The ETUC has recommended the following quality criteria for guidance and counselling:

  • Do apprentices have access to career guidance and counselling services provided by qualified professionals?
  • Do the public authorities produce statistics to show the completion rate for apprenticeships? (ETUC/Unionlearn, 2016)