3.5 Traineeships and apprenticeships
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The responsibilities of each party involved in traineeships and apprenticeships are outlined by the law. The organiser of a traineeship is responsible for the occupational safety of a trainee as specified in the Act on Occupational Safety and Health (738/2002) and in the Young Workers’ Act (998/1993). The law also regulates the daily and weekly maximum working hours of the trainee and specifies that the contract has to include a precise job description of the work the trainee is expected to perform. If necessary, the public employment and business office can demand separate terms and conditions in traineeship contracts. In addition, the Act on Equality between Women and Men (609/1986), the Non-Discrimination Act (2014) and the Act on the Protection of Privacy in Working Life are also applicable in labour market policy.
As described in Key figures on apprenticeship training in Finland (2016) by the Finnish National Agency of Education, the provision of apprenticeship training is based on an authorisation to provide education, which is granted by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The training provider is responsible for the administration of apprenticeship training and the monitoring of apprenticeships. The training provider is also responsible for, among other things, assessing the suitability of the placement workplace, the identification and recognition of the student’s prior education, approving the apprenticeship agreement, drafting the student’s personal study plan, paying training compensation to employers, paying student financial aid and making arrangements for competence-based qualifications.
One of the key projects in the of implementation of the Government Programme (2016-2018) was the reform of vocational upper secondary education. As part of the aim of creating a more competence-based customer-oriented system and improving efficiency, and as such, on-the-job learning, individual learning paths will be promoted. The idea is to increase and diversify learning in the workplace and apprenticeship training in particular, reduce employers administrative and financial burden that the provision of training entails and improve the quality of workplace learning. A new model contract for education and training was also be introduced to permit greater flexibility in the provision of workplace training and completion of qualifications in a more hands-on manner.
According to the report Key figures on apprenticeship training in Finland, improvement is needed in the number of students under 20 years old of age involved in apprenticeships. In 2014, the percentage of students in apprenticeship training under the age of 25 was far lower than in institution-based education. As part of the Youth Guarantee, an effort has been made to increase the percentage of young people in apprenticeship training, for example, by paying increased training compensation for students leaving basic education and by implementing a preliminary non-employment period of no more than six months preceding the start of apprenticeship training.
The Ministry of Education and Culture has been currently preparing a preliminary phase of apprenticeship training. The planned changes would mean that apprenticeships need not necessarily be based on a working contract. This aims to lower the threshold for employers as well as for students to enter into an apprenticeship contract.
Apprenticeship training is integrated into a student’s personal study plan, taking into consideration the student’s prior learning level and the opportunities and requirements of the workplace. Additionally, the personal study plan is drafted within the framework of the curriculum or competence-based qualification, set out by the Finnish National Agency for Education. The personal study plan is jointly drafted by the student, the employer, and the provider of vocational education and training (VET).
Young people and adults can complete vocational upper secondary qualifications and specialist vocational qualifications through apprenticeship training. Apprenticeship training can also be provided in cases where a qualification is not being sought. Completing a recognised apprenticeship will provide the apprentice with the same eligibility as other forms of qualifications to access higher education. The provision of apprenticeship training is based on the authorisation to provide education, issued by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The training provider is responsible for the administration of apprenticeship training and the monitoring of apprenticeships. The training provider is responsible for assessing the suitability of the workplace, the identification and recognition of the student’s prior learning level, drafting the student’s personal study plan, and making arrangements for the competence-based qualification.
As apprenticeship training in Finland is publicly funded, the student and employer do not have to pay any costs related to the training. Municipalities have a statutory funding obligation for the provision of apprenticeship training in vocational upper secondary education and training. Further vocational education and training is entirely funded by the state, without any municipal funding. From the funding received, the provider of apprenticeship training is obliged to pay training compensation to employers for the training provided at the workplace, in connection with the practical work assignments. In addition to this, if the student suffers any loss of income (i.e. he or she is not paid any wages during the theoretical studies), the education provider is required to pay social benefits to students in the form of a daily allowance, in addition to a travel and accommodation allowance.
Employers taking on students who complete their basic education and begin apprenticeship training in the same year are eligible to receive increased compensation.
If an unemployed person is accepted into apprenticeship training, the employer is also eligible to receive a pay subsidy, which is paid by the local public employment office. Where apprenticeships are concerned, the so-called pay subsidy can also be paid over the entire duration of the apprenticeship on a percentage basis. This is called discretionary aid and is decided upon by the local employment office.
During an apprenticeship, the student is paid wages in accordance with the applicable collective agreement and, with some minor exceptions, the student’s employment is subject to the same employment legislation as the collective agreement for that field. If the employer does not pay any wages for training given in the educational institution, the person receives the relevant social benefits given to students.
The National Agency for Education follows the key figures and indicators of apprenticeship training. These figures include, for example, the number of students in vocational education and training, time taken to complete a qualification, and the progress of study. Furthermore, information about gender, language, educational background, as well as the special needs of students in apprenticeship training, are also monitored.