3a - VET regulations and goals

 The VET Ministerial Order

VET programmes are normally regulated via ministerial orders. Some countries have set up separate VET laws. In other countries, VET is part of the general youth educational system. VET laws and ministerial orders define the framework of the school-based as well as the work-based parts of the training.

The ministerial order is meant to assure the quality of vocational education. It also aims to ensure that the apprentices receive a more or less uniform education in all parts of the country.

The VET programmes are most often under the authority of the Ministry of Education. In some instances, the ministry of labour has the authority, and, in some cases, the two ministries share the executive power.

The ministry normally has a website, often with an English version. Here you can find the ministerial order and other regulations for the country in question.

Ministerial orders can be difficult to read and understand, and many users working with training complain about the technical and academic use of language.

Some countries, among them Denmark, provide guides that describe Ministerial Orders in a plain language.

The process of setting up user-friendly and simple web-based guidelines in the various EU countries is still being developed.

 Competence and learning outcomes

In all EU countries, there has been a shift towards making use of competence and learning outcomes.
Competence is made up of:

  • Knowledge
  • Understanding
  • Skills
  • Attitudes

Modern training programmes normally identify the range of knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes that the apprentice must achieve.

Learning outcomes
Learning outcomes specify what the apprentice should be able to do at the end the training period. The apprentice is expected to demonstrate their learning.

Specify what the apprentice has to be able to do at the end the training period. The apprentice is expected to demonstrate his/her learning.

Example Finland - Skills demonstration
The Finnish skills demonstrations take place according to a number of specific learning outcomes. The learning outcomes are identified in the training programmes for the various trades.

Additionally, the demonstration is meant to facilitate that the apprentice's learning can be assessed or checked. The apprentice can demonstrate his/her learning in relation to each of the specific learning outcomes.

In general terms, the apprentice should move from being able to do simple tasks (possibly with others' help) to independent planning and doing larger, more complicated tasks.

 Objectives for workplace training

More and more EU countries involve the social partners in their VET systems. This means that the social partners take part directly in the decision making. One way of doing so is to set up so-called 'trade committees'.
Trade committees are educational boards. The boards usually consist of representatives from the unions and employers.

Trade committees or training boards can be given the authority to describe the content of the workplace training, e.g. the goals, the objectives and the curricula.

The level and content of training descriptions varies from country to country and so does the methodology that the countries use. 

In some countries, the objectives for the workplace training are published on a national website. This is still being developed.

 Learning in the workplace

The trainer and apprentice should both have a good idea of how the training in the company will take place.

Some countries have apprentice education plans that describe each practical period. Consider, for example:   

  • Which kinds of tasks are especially suitable in the beginning of the training? 
  • Would it be a good idea to let the apprentice belong to one department? Or would it be better for him/her to move between several departments?
  • Would the apprentice benefit from working with a more experienced apprentice? 
  • Should the apprentice follow one particular employee or several different ones?  
  • Etc.

After each school-based period, the apprentice has achieved new skills and knowledge. You need to consider how the apprentice can work with these new skills in the workplace training period.  

"Practice makes perfect", as we say. The apprentice needs to repeat things many times, to become proficient.

It is crucial that the apprentice has good knowledge of what he/she is working with. The apprentice also needs to know what can be learned from the different tasks. 

The types of tasks need to be adapted to what the apprentice can manage: not too easy and not too hard!

Training often takes place during the company's daily operation, and varying employees (mostly skilled workers) will work with the apprentice. This is a challenge!

 Challenges in workplace training

Trainers who work mainly as skilled workers and experts have to have a sense of the apprentice’s level of skills. They have to offer their apprentice appropriate challenges:

  • What can the apprentice already do? 
  • What does he/she need to learn? 
  • What is hard/easy for the apprentice? 
  • When and how will he/she be instructed in methods, use of tools, etc.? 
  • When does the apprentice need help? 
  • When should he/she do tasks independently?
  • How should the apprentice’s efforts be evaluated?  

The world of education and training is full of abbreviations, or acronyms, as they are also called. Sometimes it can be difficult to understand the meaning of these acronyms. If one can’t understand the meaning of one acronym, the whole idea of a text can be lost. The Internet offers many sites that provide translation of abbreviations.

Click here for an internet acronym server. This server deals specifically with expressions and abbreviations within the educational / training area.


3 - Vocational education