3.5 Traineeships and apprenticeships
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Vocational education and traineeships
The general framework for vocational education is established by the Vocational Education Act. The primary mechanism for vocational training is vocational education for craft programmes, which includes an expert-theoretical component and practical teaching and exercises. The duration of education is three years, and practical work is a mandatory component in at least one part of the programme for all participants, as stipulated by the Crafts Act.
The Apprenticeship Contract is concluded by the craftsman and the student, and/or student’s parent or guardian. The contract governs mutual rights, obligations, and responsibilities between craftsmen and students during the course of apprenticeship programme: the beginning and duration of apprenticeship, the student's working hours at the workshop or on-site, the duration and schedule of the student's leave, the material allowance for the apprenticeship period, and the responsibilities of craftsmen concerning the implementation of the curriculum.
As a rule, the programme participants receive a monthly cash award for the workshop, in accordance with the provisions of the Apprenticeship Contract. This contract is an integral part of the By-law on the Minimum Requirements for Apprenticeship Contract.
The primary social partner involved in the implementation of apprenticeship programmes is the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts and, in some programmes, the Croatian Employers' Association. In the regular education system at the secondary school level, the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts conducts licensing of crafts and legal entities for the implementation of practical teaching and training.
The unemployed and traineeships
In addition to participating in regular vocational education, the primary beneficiaries of the vocational training programme are unemployed individuals undergoing a re-qualification programme facilitated by the Croatian Employment Service (CES). The CES also administers subsidies for specialisation, aiming to promote further education of newly employed or employed individuals. This initiative is designed to sustain jobs, introduce new technologies and production programmes, and enhance competitiveness. The CES also provides on-the-job training, aiming to empower unemployed individuals to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to perform jobs within the same workplace.
The above-mentioned models of engagement in vocational training are not directly tied to the implementation of the Youth Guarantee (YG) in Croatia. However, the implementation of the YG has broadened the range of measures aimed at facilitating the entry of young people into the workforce. Croatia initiated the implementation of the YG in 2013 by enhancing the existing set of measures named Young and Creative. The new Plan for the Youth Guarantee Implementation 2022-2023 was adopted in 2021. Until December 2019, a key component of the Youth Guarantee was occupational training without commencing employment. This involved on-the-job advancement with the employer lasting for 12 or 24 months. The programme covered health and retirement insurance, as well as travel expenses, provided by the employer. Additionally, salaries amounting to a net of HRK 3 250,00 were covered by the CES. This measure was primarily utilised by unemployed individuals up to 30 years of age, with no more than 12 months of internships, provided that they have been reporting to the CES for 30 days. The acquired qualifications are recognised at the formal education level through the European Credit System in Vocational Education and Training (ECVET system).
The apprenticeship programme is promoted through TV spots before the conclusion of the academic year, as well as through individual discussions with students during professional counselling.
The Ministry of Labour, Pension System, Family and Social Policy (MLPSFSP) began regular promotional campaigns for the YG throughout Croatia on 28 November 2014. The campaign primarily targets employers, and young people typically participate through organised events referred to them by their teachers.
Regarding the engagement of youth organisations in designing and assessing the YG, the Croatian Youth Network (CYN) actively participates as a member of the Council for the Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan. However, the decisions made by the Council are not binding and do not extend to cover all components of YG implementation.
Qualifications acquired through education are recognised at the formal education level through the ECVET system, whereas vocational training is evaluated solely based on the acquired work experience.
Croatia had more than €132.54 million at its disposal from the European Union Structural Funds for the period 2014-2020. This includes 66.36 m from the European Social Fund for the Establishment of Structural Reforms and Support Systems and 66.18 m from the Youth Employment Initiative for the period 2014-2015, targeted at the young person themselves (covering education, employment contributions, benefits during education or training, travel expenses, etc.). Thus, in addition to co-financing from the state budget and existing projects, Croatia had almost EUR 150 million at its disposal for the establishment of the Youth Guarantee.
According to the Youth Guarantee Implementation plan 2022-2023, funding for the goals of Mapping, Informing, Preparation, and Offer will be provided from the Youth Employment Initiative, other EU sources, the European Social Fund, and national co-financing as follows:
- Mapping: €5 070.02 of national financing
- Informing: €3 429 709.25 of national financing and €9 583 553.93 from other EU sources
- Preparation: €754 555.72 of national financing and €95 696.76 from other EU sources
- Offer: €227 516 127.68 of national financing and €45 419 862.39 from European Social Fund
In total, the amount of €286 804 575.75 was provided: from national financing €231 705 462.67, from the European Social Fund €45 419 862.39, and from other EU sources €9 679 250.69.
Quality assurance of traineeships
Vocational education and training (VET) institutions are required to carry out self-evaluation in cooperation with the Agency for Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education, and external evaluation in cooperation with the National Centre for External Evaluation of Education. The quality assurance system links and harmonises the self-evaluation and external evaluation of educational institutions. External evaluation uses the self-evaluation and development plans of the institution as the starting point for evaluation.
Quality assurance of programmes under Youth Guarantee
In 2016, an evaluation of participant, mentor, and employer experiences in the Occupational Training without Commencing Employment, coordinated by the CES, was conducted by the Ipsos Puls Agency, with assistance from experts at the Institute of Public Finance. Three questionnaires were administered in the survey: for young people (N = 537), employers (N = 458), and mentors (N = 375). The objectives of the study were:
- to determine the quality of the content of the vocational training
- to examine familiarity with the objectives of vocational training
- to evaluate the quality of the implementation of the vocational training programme
- to examine experiences related to the adoption of programmes (knowledge transfer, adoption of professional competencies)
- to determine the familiarity/knowledge of the contents and objectives of the vocational training programme by the user
- to evaluate the satisfaction with the aspects of defining and implementing the vocational training programme
- to examine the expectations related to participation in the measure in the area of competence acquisition
- to examine the circumstances of entry/decision on entry into the measure
- to determine the expected objectives of applying vocational training programmes in the context of occupation/profession
- to identify the factors of favourable outcomes
- to examine the attitudes toward competences achieved after exiting the measure and assess the fulfilment of the expectations of vocational training
Evaluation of the Youth Employment Initiative under the ‘Efficient Human Resources’ Operational Programme 2014-2020 was coordinated by the MLPSFSP and conducted by the ECORYS Croatia. The overall objective of the evaluation was to assess the impact of planned activities in the context of the sustainable integration of young people not in education, employment, or training (NEET status) into the labour market. The evaluation indicators are linked to the degree of relevance and justification, consistency and internal coherence, effectiveness, external coherence, and effectiveness. The interviews with the users of vocational training have also been conducted as part of the evaluation.
The CYN conducted an evaluation of occupational training implementation and indicated problems in 2016 and 2017. The evaluation, along with the numerical indicators of implementation and characteristics of the beneficiaries, assessed the impact on employment (12 months employment after the measure’s expiration) and the structural and financial aspects of YG implementation.