Regulatory framework


Quality Apprenticeships require a robust regulatory framework that establishes the overall conditions for the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of Quality Apprenticeship systems. Internationally, there is no single dominant model, but rather a variety of legal regulations and decisions emanating from structures of governance which vary from one country to another according to the different national contexts. For instance, a number of aspects may be left to stakeholders to negotiate in some countries, while they may be regulated by law in others.

The aim of this chapter is to explain the nature of the regulatory framework for Quality Apprenticeships and to present examples of good practice drawn from three different perspectives – the national, sectoral and enterprise levels.

The main functions of a regulatory framework are to:

  • Clearly define apprenticeships;
  • Specify the status of "apprentice" (employee or trainee), as well as the terms and conditions for apprentices - including working conditions, remuneration, social protection and grievance mechanisms;  
  • Set out the institutional mechanisms for governing and managing apprenticeships and how social dialogue will play a role;
  • Clarify the rights, roles and responsibilities of all relevant stakeholders including the nature of agreements between the employer, apprentice and other institutions;
  • Specify the trades and qualifications covered under apprenticeships;
  • Clearly state the duration of the apprenticeship, the proportion of on-the-job and off-the-job training involved, the processes for assessment and certification of learning and the qualification or license to be issued at the end of the apprenticeship;
  • Outline mechanisms for ensuring the quality and relevance of apprenticeship training including eligibility requirements for training institutions and enterprises;
  • Inform sustainable, equitable funding arrangements for apprenticeships including cost sharing between the government, employers and apprentices;
  • Recommend measures for promoting social inclusion and gender equality; and
  • Specify monitoring and evaluation arrangements for apprenticeships.

The European Commission considers a robust institutional and regulatory framework has typically eight different functions (box 11).

Box 1: Functions of institutional and regulatory framework- The European Commission

  • Sets the standards for the main training and skills development requirements in order to ensure the learning content and quality of the programme;
  •  Provides a clear outline of the rights, roles and responsibilities of all relevant parties and, in some cases, institutionalizes the specific role of key actors, notably the social partners;
  •  Specifies the status of the apprentice (e.g. employee, trainee);
  •  Outlines the basic apprentice-related terms and conditions, including (where applicable) entitlement to remuneration and other benefits;
  •  Determines the (minimum) duration of the training as well as the distribution of time between school- and work-based training;
  •  Specifies quality assurance mechanisms;
  •  Defines the contractual arrangements between the educational institution, employer and apprentice, usually reflected in an apprenticeship agreement, and conflict resolution mechanism; and
  • Sets the minimum qualifications and length of previous professional experience for trainers both at the educational institutions and within the companies.

Source: European Commission, 2013b, pp. 14-15.

Regulatory frameworks for Quality Apprenticeships can be seen to operate at three different levels. The first level primarily involves laws enacted at the national or state/regional level and enforced throughout the jurisdiction concerned – by means of acts, decrees and regulations. The second level primarily consists of decisions that have been made by sectoral bodies and agreements achieved by collective bargaining (see Chapter 5). The third level is made up mostly of the contractual arrangements that are agreed between the employer and the apprentice (and/or their representatives).