3.5 Traineeships and apprenticeships
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Traineeships and apprenticeships are regulated differently depending on the field; sometimes traineeships are mandatory parts of the learning process, and other times educational programs do not include any traineeships. Many areas have their own policies regarding the recognition of internships. There are, for example, rules regarding the traineeship of state prosecutors; health and allied health professionals in healthcare services, who must also undergo professional examinations; employees in the public forestry service, who must also undergo professional examinations and development; education professionals; social workers and sports experts, who also participate in internships and proficiency examinations.
In March 2015, the Committee of the National Assembly of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Disability called on the Government of the Republic of Slovenia to present a comprehensive analysis of regulated traineeship (internships) for graduates of tertiary education, mainly those intending to work in the state administration and public sectors. In April 2015, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia asked ministries (under the leadership of the MDDSZ) to prepare an analysis of traineeship (internships) in ministries and bodies they are responsible for (e.g. state bodies, public funds and local authorities). Following review of the analysis in July 2015, the Slovenian government adopted the Action Plan for the Organisation and Implementation of the Traineeship (Internship) in the Republic of Slovenia. The aim of this action plan was to eliminate regulated traineeships when possible to make the transition from formal education to the labour market easier for young people.
In the field of state administration, special quotas for trainees were adopted in the ‘Joint Staff Plan for State Administration Bodies’ (Skupni kadrovski načrt organov državne uprave za leti 2016 in 2017). Under this plan, state authorities could accept only 1–2% of all trainees every year. The recruitment of trainees is simplified (there are no longer special requirements for certain job posts), and work experience is no longer required (or student work experiences are taken into account).
In the past decade, several programmes/projects were implemented by the MDDSZ to support the inclusion of young people into the labour market. One of them was ‘Training of Candidates for Graduation at the Workplace and Subsidy for Employment of Graduates/Candidates for Graduation - Activate and Employ Yourself!’ (Usposabljanje absolventov na delovnem mestu in subvencija za zaposlitev diplomantov / absolvent – aktiviraj in zaposli se!), which was implemented from 2009 to 2012. According to the MDDSZ (2016), the ‘program provided reimbursement of expenses for employers who employed a young graduate which was previously, before graduation, involved in training for a job position in the same company. This measure was developed in cooperation with the Student organisation of Slovenia’ but approved and implemented by the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs. Under this programme, 600 young people were enrolled in a job training programme and were subsequently employed. Two of the most recent and ongoing programmes that support inclusion of young people into the labour market through offering trainings are 'Non-formal education and training for young people' (Neformalno izobraževanje in usposabljanje za mlade) and 'I'm training 2020: On-the-job training – young people' (Usposabljam.se 2020: Usposabljanje na delovnem mestu – mladi). The first one focuses on acquiring vocational knowledge and skills for better employability of young people, while the second one offers on-the-job training which increases young person's chances of employment within the same or another employer. Both programmes are implemented by the ESS.
In 2016, a new traineeship programme for young people without work experience was implemented. The programme provided paid traineeships for young people under the age of 30 who completed a degree in law, economics, veterinary science, food technology or livestock production. Total amount of 142,479 EUR was provided for the programme in 2016, 666,254 EUR in 2017 and 445,876 EUR in 2018. The programme allowed young people to achieve regular employment and higher social security, receive training for independent work under the expert guidance of a mentor, undergo proficiency examinations and acquire practical knowledge and work experience, with which young people can improve their employment opportunities. The traineeship typically lasts 10 months. In 2019, 2020 and 2021 the ESS is involved in the EU project 'YFEJ – Your first EURES job' (Tvoja prva zaposlitev EURES), which is in 95% financed by the EU. The purpose of the project is to offer help to young people (between 18 and 35 years old) with finding a job, traineeship or apprenticeship in one of the EU countries, Iceland or Norway.
‘Initial vocational education and training (IVET)' in Slovenia has very limited provision for apprenticeship training. The vast majority of IVET is school-based, with some work-based elements’ (see The European Trade Union Confederatio’s paper: European quality framework for apprenticeships (2016)). The basis for the regulatory framework for apprenticeship training in Slovenia until 2017 was the Vocational Education Act (Zakon o poklicnem in strokovnem izobraževanju) of 2006, although the Act does not provide a specific definition of apprenticeship. According to Article 2, one of its aims is to provide the knowledge, skills and vocational competences required to carry out an occupation and access further education. In 2017, the Apprenticehip Act was adopted (Zakon o vajeništvu), which regulates apprenticeships as a form of education in secondary vocational education and in programs of further vocational and professional education. The Act defines apprenticeship as a ' form of education, [where] at least 50 percent of the educational program is carried out as practical training with work at the employer, and at least 40 percent of the educational program is carried out by the school, including all general subjects of the educational programme'.
About 40% of vocational upper secondary education programmes, which last three years, are devoted to practical training. ‘Part of this training is done in inter-company education centres, and another part – at least 24 weeks and not more than 53 weeks over a 3-year period – can be carried out in companies’ (see The European Trade Union Confederatio’s paper: European quality framework for apprenticeships (2016)).
Apprenticeship qualifications are classified as Level 4, equivalent to EQF Level 4, in the Slovenian Qualifications Framework.
‘There is provision for trade union involvement in the design and implementation of IVET’. ‘Trade unions have four (out of 14) representatives on the ‘Expert Council for Vocational Education and Training’ (Strokovni svet Republike Slovenije za poklicno in strokovno izobraževanje). Apprentices sign an individual learning contract with an employer. Although this contract is not an employment contracts, apprentices may join a trade union’ (see The European Trade Union Confederatio’s paper: European quality framework for apprenticeships (2016)).
Recognition of previous (and practical) education is governed by the Rules on the Recognition of the Previous Education in Higher Vocational Education (Pravilnik o priznavanju predhodno pridobljenega znanja v višjem strokovnem izobraževanju). According to one such rule, for example, the Doba Faculty demand that students prove the knowledge they acquired in formal education with certificates and other documents illustrating the content and scope of the students’ work. Students who acquired knowledge through informal education have to prove so with other documents or portfolios (studies, experts’ detailed reports, inventions, patents, publications, etc.). Students also have the option to transfer European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) from other higher education institutions.
Each ministry regulates traineeships in a specific manner. For example, they can be paid, unpaid or apply a mixed payment system. In the private sector, there are almost no traineeships, but in the public sector they still exist, sometimes as a precondition for a qualifying examination for a position. In the past decade and a half, several programmes / projects were implemented by the MDDSZ. Many of them were supported by the European Social Fund and implemented within the framework of the Operational Programme for Human Resources Development (2007–2013).
The MGRT supports the following action:
- At the level of vocational schools: Employers’ costs for practical training of human resources in secondary vocational and technical education are co-financed by participating entities, including the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, Slovenian Chamber of Craft and Small Business and Slovenian Chamber of Commerce. Actions to promote vocational education and training are also co-financed to ensure that students acquire professional competencies and employers are able to create human resources to meet the needs of the economy and build and train their staffs. This measure is important for meeting labour demands and reducing human resource deficits.
The Slovenian government conducted an ‘Analysis of Traineeships in Slovenia’ (Analiza opravljanja pripravništva v Republiki Sloveniji), which served as a basis for the ‘Action Plan for the Organisation and Implementation of Internships in Slovenia’ (Akcijski načrt v zvezi z organizacijo in izvedbo opravljanja pripravništev v Sloveniji). MDDSZ prepared the ‘Analysis of Traineeships in Slovenia’ (Analiza opravljanja pripravništva v RS). The systemic changes to traineeships proposed in the analysis are as follows:
- The Government of the Republic of Slovenia is required by its ministries to eliminate provisions in legislation relating to volunteer internships. Organisations overseeing this measure include the MIZŠ, the Ministry of Public Administration, the MDDSZ, the Ministry of Health, the MK and the Ministry of Justice. Its implementation is already underway (legal bases have been amended).
- Measures related to rules regarding the provision of traineeships and professional examinations in the fields of social security, education, health and librarianship have been developed. Organisations overseeing these measures include the MIZŠ, the MDDSZ, the Ministry of Health and the MK. Its implementation is already underway (legal bases have been amended).
- Measures relating to the facilitation of youth employment in the public sector have been developed. Organisations overseeing these measures include the MIZŠ, the Ministry of Public Administration and the Ministry of Finance. Its implementation began on 1 January 2016 (government staff plan).
- A measure regarding internships in the public sector has been developed.
Under each measure, activities regarding the systemic regulation of internships, defined in the action plan as relating to the organisation and the implementation of traineeships in Slovenia, will be carried out. The most salient examples were found in the fields of social work, education, culture and justice. In the field of culture, there were some amendments to legislation; in the field of education there was a tender for internships and some rules were changed; in the field of social work the MDDSZ launched a tender for internships and in the field of justice, nothing has changed. One analysis about internships in Slovenia was performed, but nothing occurred that would begin systematic change.