The purpose of the study was to map the employers who collaborate with vocational education institutions and to study how satisfied they are with and how much they contribute to the organisation of apprenticeships and internships in vocational education, as well as to identify best practices and challenges. Apprenticeship training is a type of formal education, where at least two-thirds of the learning takes place in the workplace under the supervision of specialists. Internship training forms a part of a formal education programme, whereby a student acquires and improves their professional skills and knowledge through practical experience of the working environment.
The survey collected opinions, views and descriptions about the following aspects: reasons for and regularity of offering apprenticeships and internships; recruitment of apprentices and interns; assessment of apprenticeship and internship jobs in the organisation; information exchange and awareness; working conditions; supervision; levels of satisfaction with apprentices, interns, organisation of training and best practices; other collaboration between the organisation and vocational schools.
Employers have several concurrent reasons for offering places to apprentices and interns, and the various reasons are all relatively common. Over half of the internship supervisors mentioned reasons such as organisation gets involved in the development of their industry, and organisation maintains and improves its image. Recruitment of new workers and providing internships for the existing workers were also important reasons for offering internships. Among apprenticeship providers, the equally common reasons were improving quality of production or services, introduction of new know-how and technology, finding permanent workers, getting involved in the development of their industry, maintaining and improving the organisation’s image, and designing a training programme that fits the organisation’s requirements. Apprenticeships are largely used for the purpose of training the organisation’s own employees. The study reveals that bigger organisations are more likely to make use of this opportunity.
The majority of supervisors rated their awareness of apprenticeship and internship related matters as good. More than 70% of supervisors were well aware of apprenticeship and internship goals, required workplace conditions and supervisor’s role, their duties and involvement prior to their latest supervising assignment. They were less aware of how the collaboration and communication was organised between the organisation and the school and what costs were involved.
As to the opinions about apprentices and interns, the majority of supervisors believed their students were motivated to acquire new skills. More than half of the supervisors believed that apprentices and interns brought with them new ideas and knowledge and that their contribution was beneficial to the organisation and created added value.
According to the supervisors, there are many different factors that affect the success of an internship. The pivotal role was given to the apprentice’s or intern’s personal characteristics, views and engagement. Other factors that were mentioned were intern’s suitability for the chosen profession, possession of necessary knowledge and skills, clear and precise internship guidelines, relevant training equipment at school, detailed information on the student passed on from school, how much time the supervisor can spend on supervising, collaboration between the school and the organisation and the intern’s scholarship.