There is much to learn when comparing approaches around the world, countries other than Australia have used to improve completion rates of apprentices and trainees:
Germany's Dual Education System: Germany has a well-known dual education system that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction – this means that there is no option for only off the job or only off the job training. According to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), this system has contributed to Germany's high completion rates, with more than 80% of apprentices completing their training. In contrast, in Australia, completion rates are much lower, with only around 50% of apprentices and trainees completing their programs.
Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2019). Education at a Glance 2019: OECD Indicators.
Switzerland's Vocational Education and Training (VET) System: Switzerland's VET system offers apprenticeships in a variety of fields and industries, and apprentices are paid a salary while they learn on-the-job skills. According to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Switzerland has one of the highest completion rates for apprenticeships in Europe, with more than 70% of apprentices completing their programs.
Source: International Labour Organization (ILO) (2016). Global Employment Trends for Youth 2016: Scaling Up Investments in Decent Jobs for Youth.
Finland's Apprenticeship Training: Finland has implemented a "learning by doing" approach to apprenticeship training, which focuses on practical, hands-on learning. According to a report by the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop), this approach has contributed to Finland's high completion rates, with around 80% of apprentices completing their programs.
Source: European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) (2016). Vocational education and training in Finland: Short description.
Singapore's Earn and Learn Programme: Singapore's Earn and Learn Programme provides structured training and workplace learning opportunities for individuals who have recently graduated from tertiary institutions. According to a report by the Ministry of Manpower, more than 80% of participants in the programme have successfully completed their training.
Source: Ministry of Manpower (2019). Workforce Singapore Annual Report 2018/2019.
Overall, these countries have implemented various strategies to improve the completion rates of apprentices and trainees, including dual education systems, vocational education and training programs, and structured workplace learning opportunities. These strategies have resulted in significantly higher completion rates than in Australia.
What are some innovative ways to improve the completion rates for apprentices and trainees from across the world?
There are several innovative ways that countries around the world have been using to improve the completion rates for apprentices and trainees. Here are some examples:
Use of Digital Technologies: The use of digital technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR), can provide a more engaging and interactive learning experience for apprentices and trainees. This technology can be used to simulate real-life work scenarios, making it easier for trainees to learn and retain new skills. For instance, German-based company Festo has created a virtual reality training platform that allows apprentices to learn how to operate and maintain industrial equipment in a safe and interactive environment.
Peer Mentoring: Peer mentoring involves pairing apprentices or trainees with more experienced peers who can provide guidance and support throughout their training. This can be particularly effective for younger apprentices who may feel more comfortable seeking advice from someone closer to their age. For instance, the United Kingdom’s National Apprenticeship Service has established a peer mentoring program for apprentices that has resulted in improved retention rates.
Flexibility in Training: Providing apprentices and trainees with greater flexibility in their training programs can help them balance work and personal commitments while still completing their training. This can include flexible schedules, online learning modules, or self-paced training programs. For example, Switzerland's vocational education and training system allows apprentices to complete their training over a longer period, typically up to four years, rather than the standard three-year program.
Employer-Led Training: Employer-led training involves employers taking a more active role in designing and delivering training programs that meet their specific needs. This can help ensure that apprentices and trainees are learning the skills and knowledge that are most relevant to their industry and workplace. For example, the United States has introduced an employer-led apprenticeship program, where employers design and deliver apprenticeship programs that are accredited by the Department of Labor.
Financial Incentives: Offering financial incentives, such as wage subsidies or tax credits, can encourage employers to take on more apprentices and trainees, while also providing additional financial support to apprentices and trainees. For example, in Italy, employers who take on apprentices are eligible for wage subsidies, while apprentices receive a monthly stipend.