Chapter 5. How to ensure a good learning experience at work?

The focus of this chapter is on the workplace as the location of apprentice learning. It describes how apprentices split their time between productive and non-productive tasks, and explores approaches, such as supervisor training and the management of work tasks, which can enable apprentices to integrate learning and productive work. The chapter concludes by reviewing the functions of final apprenticeship examinations, the training of examiners, and innovative means of assessing the full range of apprentice knowledge and skills. The function of summative apprenticeship examinations in confirming the skills of workers who receive exemptions from full programmes is also discussed.


The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

Issues and challenges

Learning at work is a vital element in high-quality apprenticeships

Training delivered in workplaces is at the heart of apprenticeships. Workplaces provide a powerful learning environment that allow technical skills to be learnt on the latest equipment and under the guidance and supervision of practitioners who know how to use the equipment. Soft skills, such as teamwork and negotiation, are acquired in context following the example of experienced professionals.

The learning experience at work is a crucial determinant of the overall quality of an apprenticeship programme. This is because apprentices typically spend at least half of their time in a workplace (see Table 5.1), unlike in school-based vocational programmes where work-based learning, if offered, is a top-up to learning at school.

Table 5.1. How do apprentices spend their time?

Time allocation

Share of productive work in time spent at the workplace


66% - workplace; 20% - off-the-job education and training; 14% - leave and sick days

83% spent on productive work

England (United Kingdom)

Up to 80% - workplace; minimum 20% off-the-job education and training


56% - workplace; 29% - off-the-job education and training; 14% - leave and sick days

77% spent on productive work


Typically, two years spent at school followed by two years in the workplace

1 year of training

1 year of productive work


59% - workplace; 27% - off-the-job education and training; 14% - leave and sick days

83% of the time with the company is spent on productive work

Source: Kuczera, M. (2017[1]), “Striking the right balance: Costs and benefits of apprenticeship”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 153,

Apprentices may perform different types of tasks at work

A key question for apprenticeship programmes is how to allocate the time spent by apprentices in the workplace between different activities. The mix of activities needs to allow apprentices to develop the skills targeted by the programme, while being financially worthwhile for the firm. Apprentices may spend time in three types of task:

  • Non-productive activities: activities of no direct productive value to the firm. This includes some types of learning (e.g. doing exercises or listening to a supervisor’s explanations) and other activities (e.g. time spent in transport to visit a client).

  • Productive skilled activities: tasks normally performed by a skilled worker. This may involve learning (e.g. practicing a technique while doing real work) or not (e.g. work using skills the apprentice already masters).

  • Productive unskilled activities: tasks that can be done by an unskilled worker (e.g. cleaning a workshop). Performing such tasks does not develop technical skills, but it may develop soft skills, such as the ability to work in a team or time management.

The kind of tasks that apprentices perform impact their employer financially

What exactly apprentices do while in the workplace affects the balance of costs and benefits for employers. For example, a restaurant benefits when an apprentice cook peels potatoes (productive unskilled activities) and when they bake a soufflé (productive skilled activities), but gains no immediate benefits when the would-be cook is practicing skills that are not part of the production process, even though they are developing their skills (non-productive activities). The benefits associated with training (including those practice exercises) are realised by the firm later on, when apprentices put their newly developed skills into practice and perform skilled tasks. Instead of paying regular employees (with skilled worker wages) to perform the task, the apprentice can do the same but at lower wages.

There is a risk that apprentices are exploited as cheap unskilled labour

While it is possible for employers to benefit financially from teaching apprentices new skills, sometimes they could reap even more benefits by delivering little training and using apprentices as unskilled workers. This requires little investment from the firm, but, if the apprentice wage is low, would yield benefits associated with the productive unskilled work carried out by the apprentice. Simulations based on cost-benefit surveys show that Swiss employers could increase their net benefits by an average of EUR 22 000 per apprentice over the period of an apprenticeship if the apprentices performed only unskilled tasks while in the workplace [Wolter and Ryan (2011[2]) in Mühlemann (2016[3])].

Regulations are needed to ensure that all apprentices receive high-quality work-based learning

Relying on employers’ interests in delivering training is not enough to ensure that all apprentices receive high-quality training at work: regulations are also needed. In countries with strong apprenticeship systems, regulations ensure that employers train their apprentices, rather than just exploiting them as cheap unskilled labour. This requires standards that define the skills apprentices should develop while in the workplace, employers that are able to deliver high-quality training, and rigorous assessments to check whether the apprentice has acquired the targeted skills.

Sometimes workplaces are used mainly to put skills into practice, and not enough as learning environments

As apprenticeships have evolved historically in different countries, the long-standing obligation on an employer to provide instruction has been augmented by off-the-job education and training and education provided by schools or colleges. In some countries, programmes also include training funded and organised by employers but offered in shared training centres (e.g. Germany and Switzerland). In most countries, learning in different settings makes for a valuable blend of complementary experience. However, in some apprenticeship schemes the training obligation of employers has been diminished, with expectations and regulations mostly focusing on training provided in school or college settings. For example, in England (United Kingdom), quality assurance focuses on off-the-job training provided by a registered training provider. Unless the training provider is the firm providing the apprenticeship, there is little expectation on employers to deliver training as part of the apprenticeship (Kuczera and Field, 2018[4]).

The training capacity of employers must be built and supported

The quality of the learning experience in workplaces has a huge impact on the overall quality of apprenticeships, as apprentices spend much (often most) of their time with an employer. However, while schools are built around the objective of teaching, workplaces are designed primarily to produce. Taking on and training apprentices, while continuing with day-to-day production activities, is demanding for employers.

  • Training capacity should be supported, helping employers to deliver high-quality training to apprentices. This support may be facilitated through public policy, collective action by firms (e.g. sectoral bodies, employer organisations or unions) or a combination of both. Targeted training should be offered to apprentice supervisors.

  • Stronger training capacity in workplaces benefits apprentices by ensuring that all have a high-quality learning experience at work, meaning that they can develop the technical and softer skills targeted by the programme that will equip them for successful careers.

  • Employers can benefit by strengthening their training capacity through a better integration of apprentices into the production process. In firms that are better at training, apprentices develop skills faster. Where learning is better integrated into productive work, apprentices can practice and hone their skills, while also contributing to output.

Policy argument 1: Delivering high-quality apprenticeships requires strong management and training capacity

Training capacity underpins apprenticeship systems

Some employers may not feel able to train apprentices, and some are better than others at conducting training on the job. Training capacity depends on the training skills of apprentice supervisors, the quality of training methods and equipment, and the capacity to deal with the procedures associated with apprenticeships (such as administration and assessments). Such capacity is at the heart of the “apprenticeship tradition”, and is well-established in countries and sectors with a long history of apprenticeships: supervisors were often trained as apprentices themselves, and firms know how to train in compliance with regulations and have the capacity to deal with related administrative tasks. A key implication is that the “apprenticeship tradition” can be gradually built (or indeed lost) over time. By supporting the training capacity of employers, apprenticeships can be promoted in countries with mostly school-based programmes, expanded into new economic sectors, or encouraged in types of workplaces that have previously been little engaged in apprenticeship provision.

Training capacity may be supported in various ways

Governments can enhance the training capacity of employers through a wide range of tools that help employers develop their training skills. Governments can also facilitate networking among employers to share knowledge and experience on how best to support, develop and make use of apprentices and training apprentice supervisors (further discussed below). Sharing some of the training responsibility can relieve the training burden on firms. This can be especially helpful to small firms that often lack the staff and training equipment to cover the entire curriculum (see country examples in Chapter 2).

Apprentice supervisors shape the learning experience of apprentices at work

Employees who supervise apprentices in the workplace have heavy responsibilities. New apprentices not only have to learn a range of technical skills, but also need to acquire a diverse set of soft skills regarding how they work with colleagues, relate to their boss, communicate with customers and sometimes handle conflict. Young apprentices are also learning how to deal with life in the workplace, and may also, as teenagers transitioning to adulthood, have to tackle personal problems that may include issues such as drug and alcohol abuse. Any one of these issues, if not well handled, could lead to the apprentice dropping out. Young apprentices from disadvantaged or troubled backgrounds, as discussed in Chapter 6, may face particular challenges.

Targeting training at apprentice supervisors can support high-quality training

Apprenticeship regulations in several countries require employers to be prepared to deliver an apprenticeship, with specific requirements for apprentice supervisors. When such requirements exist, apprentice supervisors are typically expected to hold proof of relevant technical and training skills. Targeted training for apprentice supervisors is mandatory in Germany, the Netherlands, the province of Ontario in Canada and Switzerland; it is optional in Norway (see Box 5.1). Evidence suggests that better prepared apprentice supervisors underpin high-quality training. In Germany, the temporary suspension of compulsory training for apprentice supervisors was associated with higher apprentice dropout rates and more complaints on behalf of companies about the performance of apprentices. In light of this experience, mandatory training for apprentice supervisors was reintroduced in 2009 after a six-year suspension (BIBB, 2009[5]).

Sometimes regulations are loose. In Australia, for example, apprentices are regular employees and the challenge is to ensure that they receive training in addition to tasks performed within the framework of their regular job. Some Australian states tackle this issue by requiring those supervising apprentices to be qualified for the task (Queensland Government, 2018[6]) In Israel, regulations set out competence requirements for apprentice supervisors, although these are not always respected as firms struggle to cover their costs (Kuczera, Bastianić and Field, 2018[7]).

Developing management capacity has broader benefits for employers

The capacity to train apprentices is similar to general management capacity. All workers are, in reality, partially rather than fully skilled, particularly in the context of technological change and innovation, where everyone is trying out new approaches and tasks. The job of managers is to guide and support staff and ensure that key immediate tasks are performed, while also deepening existing skills and developing new skills. This is a very challenging task, similar to that of someone supervising apprentices. The implication is that measures that develop employer capacity to manage apprentices will also assist their capacity to manage other staff.

Box 5.1. Training for apprentice supervisors

Canada: Apprentice supervisors in Canadian jurisdictions must be qualified journeypersons. For many trades in Canadian apprenticeship programmes, there is specified training time allotted for effective mentorship practices. This is often provided in the final period of apprenticeship in-school training periods so that when apprentices become certified journeypeople, they have an effective knowledge base to become good mentors.

Source: Government of Ontario (2017[8])Hire an; Industry Training Authority (2017[9]), Apprenticeships Who’s Who,

Germany: Apprentice supervisors with an upper-secondary vocational qualification must pass the trainer aptitude examination, which verifies their ability to assess educational needs, plan and prepare training, assist in the recruitment of apprentices, deliver training, and prepare apprentices for the examination (BIBB, 2009[10]). Candidates typically prepare through “training for trainer” courses, which last 115 hours and are provided by chambers of commerce (BIBB, 2009[5]). The examination costs EUR 180, on average, while preparatory courses cost up to EUR 420. Candidates may be supported by their employers and can seek financial support from the state (TA Bildungszentrum, 2015[11]). Those with higher vocational qualifications are entitled to supervise apprentices, as master craftsperson programmes include this element.

Source: BIBB (2009[10]), “Ausbilder-Eignungsverordnung Vom 21 Januar 2009”, Bundesgesetzblatt 5,;

BIBB (2009[5]), Empfehlungen des Hauptausschusses des Bundesinstituts für Berufsbildung zum Rahmenplan für die Ausbildung der Ausbilder und Ausbilderinnen, BIBB, Bonn.,; TA Bildungszentrum (2015[11]), Ausbildungseignungsprüfung IHK (AEVO).

Norway: Training for apprentice supervisors is optional, free to participants, and delivered by counties, schools or training offices (owned by companies). Counties provide the course, learning materials, subsistence and travel expenses, while firms pay supervisors during the course. Typically, the training lasts two days (or four half days) per year. Supervisors learn to cover the curriculum, complete evaluation procedures and administrative forms, and prepare and follow through a training plan. The time between training sessions allows supervisors to practice what they have learnt. National guidelines, developed in co-operation with vocational education and training (VET) teacher training institutions, are available on line.

Source: Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (2009[12]), Personal Communication (22 January 2009).

Policy argument 2: With care, learning can be integrated into productive work, benefitting both employers and apprentices

The mix of apprenticeship tasks typically includes more skilled work and less training as apprentices progress

In schemes where apprentices alternate days spent at school or college and days spent in a firm, the mix of tasks gradually evolves to include less training and more productive work (see Figure 5.1 for data from Germany and Switzerland). In some apprenticeship schemes, the time mostly dedicated to training and the time mostly spent on productive work are separated into consecutive periods. For example, in Norway, apprentices typically spend two years training in a vocational school and then work for an employer for two years. At the workplace, one year focuses on training activities and one year on productive work.

Figure 5.1. Activities performed by apprentices in the workplace
By year of apprenticeship

Note: Reference year 2007 for Germany, 2009 for Switzerland.

Source: Adapted from Jansen, A. et al. (2015[13]), “Labour market deregulation and apprenticeship training: A comparison of German and Swiss employers”, European Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 21/4, pp. 353-368,


Learning can be part of productive or non-productive activities

Many types of learning can take place either through non-productive activities or by being integrated into productive work. For example, after observing their supervisor and receiving instruction, a trainee might practice the targeted skills through simulations (e.g. in a workshop) or by doing real work. Either way, the apprentice gets a chance to practice the task in order to master the skill. However, while undertaking simulations or other exercises apprentices do not produce anything, whereas in a real work environment they can be productive while learning. Apprentices will need more time to complete a given task than an experienced worker and the result might be of lower quality, but they still generate benefits for the firm. Integrating some elements of training into productive activities is therefore, in principle, beneficial from the point of view of firms and neutral from the point of view of apprentices.

There is sometimes room to integrate more learning into productive work

Evidence suggests that with care, learning can often be integrated into productive work, which yields higher benefits for the firm while maintaining learning quality. Research found that in Germany, firms that offer apprenticeships reduced the share of non-productive activities by half between 2000 and 2007, and increased the share of productive work. If firms had just reduced all forms of training, the change would have harmed learning outcomes for apprentices. Instead, data suggest that apprentices continued to spend the same amount of time with instructors as before, firms maintained their level of spending on apprenticeships, and apprentices’ productivity compared to skilled workers did not suffer (Jansen et al., 2015[13]). In summary, careful organisation of the time spent in the workplace allowed firms to increase the benefits reaped during the apprenticeship scheme itself, without damaging learning among apprentices.

The scope for learning through productive work varies across occupations

The ease of learning through productive work depends on the occupation: in highly technical occupations where more expensive equipment is used, substantial training is often needed before apprentices can start productive work. In others, health and safety considerations mean that simulations, theoretical instruction and other non-productive training activities are necessary before an apprentice can start working. For example, an apprentice cook can have a go at their first soufflé on day one, but a would-be electrician must undertake substantial training before touching the wires.

Integrating learning into productive work requires strong management capacity

The principle of integrating learning into productive work appears to be an easy win. In practice, trusting productive activities to an apprentice requires careful management, as there is always an element of risk when partially skilled apprentices work with valuable equipment or interact with valued clients. Careful management and training skills are necessary to help a young apprentice, for example, get the soufflé right and avoid the risk of exposing valued customers to soggy scrambled eggs. The implication is that policy tools that improve training capacity in workplaces (as discussed above) can yield benefits to both employers and apprentices: employers can achieve a better financial balance by teaching the same skills as before, but integrating them better into the production process, and apprentices benefit from a consistently strong learning experience.

Apprenticeship assessments must be rigorous

When an employer takes on an apprentice, it commits to develop the skillset targeted by the programme. Employers have some degree of autonomy over how they organise their apprentice’s time on the job, as long as they cover that skillset. This autonomy needs to be balanced by rigorous assessments to check that all apprentices have developed the desired skills by the end of the programme.

One challenge is that occupations targeted by apprenticeships require a wide range of skills, including practical technical skills, which are often expensive to test directly, and soft skills (e.g. how to deal with an awkward client), for which traditional paper and pencil tests are poorly adapted. As a result, these aspects of the targeted skillset are often inappropriately assessed in examinations.

  • Standards and procedures for assessment should be established to support clear and reliable qualifications. These should cover issues such as what skills are assessed, how the assessment is conducted, and who will carry out the assessment. Mechanisms are necessary to ensure consistency in standards and in the use of the assessment in different parts of a country and at different points of time.

  • In light of the wide range of skills required by many occupations targeted by apprenticeships, assessments should incorporate, whenever possible, tests of the full range of skills required in the target occupation. These should include skills not adequately measured by traditional written and oral assessments, including practical technical skills and soft skills.

Policy argument 1: Strong final examinations ensure credible qualifications, while allowing flexibility in how skills are developed

Rigorous final examinations are needed to underpin high-quality apprenticeships

Regarding the on-the-job component of apprenticeships, regulations typically include some requirements regarding the quality of input (e.g. supervisor qualifications, training plan). At the same time, and for good reason, employers typically have considerable autonomy in defining the tasks that apprentices perform on the job. This allows them to adapt the training to the context of the workplace (e.g. staffing arrangements, way of organising production), enabling optimal means of integrating apprentices into their daily activities. Counterbalancing this autonomy, valid and reliable assessments are needed to check whether the apprentice is effectively learning on the job. Final examinations, which verify if the apprentice has acquired the full targeted skillset at the end of the programme, are particularly important.

Rigorous assessments can also benefit those who acquire skills through different pathways

Reliable assessments are also needed to implement the tools discussed in Chapter 4: the possibility for individuals who already have some of the relevant skills to complete an apprenticeship faster than the standard duration, and the option of taking the final apprentice examination without pursuing the full apprenticeship programme itself. These options involve non-standard routes to skills, with either an adjusted training programme or no mandatory training programme at all. When a qualification is delivered with limited or no programmatic requirements, its value in the labour market will depend on the credibility of the underlying assessments.

Policy argument 2: Assessments need to test the range of skills required by the target occupation

Technical skills are often inappropriately assessed because of the costs involved

Some technical skills can be adequately assessed through paper and pencil examinations (e.g. when the focus is on theoretical knowledge), however, such tools are poorly adapted for the assessment of practical technical skills. Direct assessments of practical technical skills in an authentic working environment can be very costly because of the material and equipment involved. As a result, there can be a temptation to skimp on the assessment of some of these skills.

Technology can reduce the costs of assessment

Technology might create new and cheaper ways of assessing practical skills. For example, the skills of a would-be CNC (Computer Numerical Control) technician might be tested on a CNC simulator, avoiding the high costs of using a real machine and materials. A recent research initiative in Germany developed technology-based tools for the assessment of vocational skills, with encouraging results (see Box 5.2).

Box 5.2. Technology-based assessments in Germany

The ASCOT (Technology-based Assessment of Skills and Competences in Vocational Education and Training) research initiative was launched in 2011, with the aim of developing methods for technology-based final assessments in VET. The initiative included projects with experts in the fields of science and practice in five occupations. Instruments for assessment were developed based on real life situations. For example, apprentices training to be medical assistants were confronted with a virtual doctor’s office simulating interactions with patients. The instruments proved highly suitable for the assessment of technical and professional competences, occupation-specific social and communication skills, and occupationally relevant literacy and numeracy skills. They also improved the objectivity of assessments and the test motivation of candidates, and were more efficient than traditional assessment tools. The follow-up initiative, ASCOT+, will aim to transfer the instruments into practice: supporting teaching and learning, as well as informing the development of competence-based training regulations and examinations.

Source: BMBF (2018[14]), Technologiebasierte Kompetenzmessung in der beruflichen Bildung (ASCOT), Ergebnisse und Bedeutung für Politik und Praxis,

Social skills are crucial to many jobs, including those requiring a vocational qualification. Traditionally the focus of vocational (and indeed academic) examinations has been on theoretical knowledge and technical skills, with little or no attention given to social skills. One reason for this is that social skills are hard to test with traditional paper and pencil examinations. Designing and implementing assessments that test how good a car mechanic apprentice is at handling awkward clients is much harder than testing their knowledge of mechatronics. However, socio-emotional skills might carry more weight in the skillsets required for the vocational occupations of the future, so their assessment is important. Data from the United States show that demand for non-routine interpersonal skills has strongly increased in recent years (Autor and Price, 2013[15]).

There are promising practices in the assessment of occupation-specific socio-emotional skills

There are some promising initiatives in the assessment of occupation-specific socio-emotional skills, and various countries have developed and used assessments that focus on social skills, for example through role-playing. In Switzerland, real estate agents aiming to pass the professional examination for property managers must pass an oral examination, where they might, for example, be required to negotiate with an elderly couple regarding their poorly kept building (see Box 5.3).

Box 5.3. Oral examination for property managers in Switzerland

Candidates for the professional examination in property management must pass, among others, an oral examination focusing mostly on social and “methodological” competences. The examination includes a role-playing scenario, with examiners playing the role of clients.

An example of a role-playing scenario

The candidate is meeting the retired owners of a building who wish to delegate property management to an agency. The building has various problems (e.g. rusty swings in the playground), so the candidate is expected to make proposals for renovation and taking care of the building, as well as advise about the transferal of ownership to the owners’ children while continuing to receive rental income.

Examiners evaluate the candidate following an assessment grid

Social competences include communication skills, behaviour and appearance. To obtain grade 6 in communication, the candidate must express themselves clearly, be an active listener and give focused replies. Methodological competences include integrative thinking, problem solving and negotiation techniques. To obtain grade 6 in negotiation, the candidate must negotiate successfully using plausible arguments. Some aspects of technical knowledge are checked during the discussion, for example, asking the candidate to describe the legal basis concerning subletting the rental property.

Examiners are also observed during the examination

An observer, from the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation checks whether the examiners meet expectations in their role (e.g. clear discussion points, instructions and roles). Their performance is rated as very good, satisfactory, or not satisfactory. Following the examination, the observer gives feedback to the examiners. This element is particularly important if the candidate appeals to challenge the examination result.

Source: Kis, V. and H. Windisch (2018[16]), “Making skills transparent: Recognising vocational skills acquired through work-based learning”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 180,

Entrepreneurial skills also need adequate attention

High-level vocational qualifications, for example in many professional and master craftsman qualifications, often aim to prepare people to run their own business. Some examination procedures also include an assessment of entrepreneurship skills. In Germany, master craftsperson examinations were revised in 2001 to increase the attention paid to the skills needed to run a business, not only at present, but also in response to changing workplace requirements (see Box 5.4).

Box 5.4. Reformed master craftsperson examinations in Germany

Since 2001, revisions of master craftsperson examinations in various occupations have increased emphasis on candidates’ capacity to run their own business, train apprentices, and adapt to changing workplace requirements.

Part I of the assessment now comprises a technical exam, a related expert discussion, and an optional situation-specific task. Candidates choose the focus of their craftsperson exam project themselves. The examination commission devises the project assignment, leaving room for suggestions from the examinees. The project resembles a customer order, and encompasses planning, implementation and documentation and an expert discussion with the examination board. Situation-specific tasks are used to check the candidates’ skills in areas not covered by the project work.

Part II of the assessment now requires the examinees to prove their capacity to identify, analyse and solve work-related problems. The new structure is even more oriented towards workplace requirements and includes components on trade-specific technical skills, order processing, business management and business organisation. In each of these components, at least one case study must be included.

Source: ZWH (n.d.[17]), Geänderte Anforderungen in der Meisterprüfung im Handwerk, Zentralstelle fur die Weiterbildung im Handwerk e.V (ZWH),[tt_news]=23&tx_ttnews[backPid]=28&cHash=f19ae37d9e.

Training for assessors can help ensure valid and reliable assessments

In some countries, training for assessors in vocational examinations is mandatory to ensure the consistency of assessment methods across regions, firms or training institutions. In Switzerland, most assessors in apprenticeship examinations must complete targeted training and receive federal certification (Felser, 2016[18]). In Norway, assessors in apprenticeship examinations must attend training offered by the regional education authorities, receive mentoring support, and can pursue professional development courses set up in co-operation with higher education institutions (Ure, 2015[19]). In Austria and Germany, training for assessors is optional (see Box 5.5).

Box 5.5. Training for assessors of apprentices


At the end of apprenticeships, members of the examination commission can become a certified assessor after attending a one-day programme composed of at least eight 50-minute modules. Regional apprenticeship offices offer the training, which covers the examination procedure, the distribution of roles, examination simulations, performance evaluation, as well as issues such as how to handle nervous candidates and how to give feedback.

Source: ibw (2016[20]), Zertifizierte/r Prüfer/in für Lehrabschlussprüfungen,


The preparation of assessors may involve an exchange of experience, the consultation of relevant regulations, preparatory seminars and exam shadowing. The vast majority of assessors have been found by survey to agree that exchanging experience is the best way to learn. Assessor days are organised by chambers of commerce and offer a platform for such exchanges. The Federal Institute for VET (BIBB) provides an online platform that allows assessors to access up-to-date information on training seminars and exchange experience.

Source: Prüferportal (2016[21]), “Prüfung”,; Prüferportal (2016[22]), “Prüferin werden”,; Prüferportal (2016[23])Meisterprüfungsausschüsse,


This chapter explores how governments and employers can ensure the best possible learning experiences for apprentices whilst in the workplace, and draws on international evidence to highlight the critical importance of such on-the-job training. Effective practice seeks to build training into as much of an apprentice’s time at work as is reasonable. It cannot be taken for granted that employers will have the capacity to train well. Governments and social partners can require, or encourage, apprentice supervisors to undertake training themselves and help managers to design work practices to maximise apprentice learning within productive work, as is suitable to different apprenticeships. Rigorous assessment, overseen by appropriate training examiners, is an essential characteristic of strong apprenticeship systems. Final examinations should not only test theoretical and technical knowledge and skills, but also address the fuller demands of the associated occupation, such as personal interaction or social skills. Simulations and role-playing exercises with examiners are innovative means of testing the full range of knowledge and skills demanded by an apprenticeship.


[15] Autor, D. and B. Price (2013), The Changing Task Composition of the US Labor Market: An Update of Autor, Levy, and Murnane (2003),

[10] BIBB (2009), “Ausbilder-Eignungsverordnung Vom 21 Januar 2009”, Bundesgesetzblatt 5,

[5] BIBB (2009), Empfehlung des Hauptausschusses des Bundesinstituts für Berufsbildung zum Rahmenplan für die Ausbildung der Ausbilder und Ausbilderinnen, (Recommendation of the Main Committee of the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training on the Framework for the Training of Trainers), Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) , Bonn,

[14] BMBF (2018), Technologiebasierte Kompetenzmessung in der beruflichen Bildung (ASCOT), Ergebnisse und Bedeutung für Politik und Praxis, (Technology-based Competence Measurement in Vocational Education and Training (ASCOT), Results and Significance for Politics and Practice), BMBF, Bonn,

[18] Felser, R. (2016), SFIVET – Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training.

[8] Government of Ontario (2017), Hire an Apprentice, (accessed on 1 August 2017).

[20] ibw (2016), Zertifizierte/r Prüfer/in für Lehrabschlussprüfungen, Institut für Bildungsforschung der Wirtschaft, Wien, (accessed on 28 June 2016).

[9] Industry Training Authority (2017), Apprenticeships Who’s Who, (accessed on 1 August 2017).

[13] Jansen, A. et al. (2015), “Labour market deregulation and apprenticeship training: A comparison of German and Swiss employers”, European Journal of Industrial Relations, Vol. 21/4, pp. 353-368,

[16] Kis, V. and H. Windisch (2018), “Making skills transparent: Recognising vocational skills acquired through workbased learning”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 180, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[1] Kuczera, M. (2017), “Striking the right balance: Costs and benefits of apprenticeship”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 153, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[7] Kuczera, M., T. Bastianić and S. Field (2018), Apprenticeship and Vocational Education and Training in Israel, OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[4] Kuczera, M. and S. Field (2018), Apprenticeship in England, United Kingdom, OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[3] Mühlemann, S. (2016), “The cost and benefits of work-based learning”, OECD Education Working Papers, No. 143, OECD Publishing, Paris,

[12] Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training (2009), Personal Communication (22 January 2009).

[23] Prüferporta (2016), Meisterprüfungsausschüsse, (accessed on 23 May 2016).

[21] Prüferportal (2016), Die Zusammensetzung des Prüfungsausschusses, (accessed on  23 May 2016).

[22] Prüferportal (2016), Prüfer/in werden, (accessed on  1 June 2016).

[6] Queensland Government (2018), The Employer Resource Assessment and Training Plan - Expectations of the Department, (accessed on  20 July 2018).

[11] TA Bildungszentrum (2015), Ausbildungseignungsprüfung IHK (AEVO),

[19] Ure, O. (2015), How Informal and Non-formal Learning is Recognised in Europe. Norway Country Report, Bertelsmann Stiftung, Gütersloh, (accessed on 23 April 2018).

[2] Wolter, S. and P. Ryan (2011), “Apprenticeship”, in Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier,

[17] ZWH (n.d.), Geänderte Anforderungen in der Meisterprüfung im Handwerk, Zentralstelle fur die Weiterbildung im Handwerk e.V (ZHW),[tt_news]=23&tx_ttnews[backPid]=28&cHash=f19ae37d9e.

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