Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices (or in early modern usage "prentices") or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships. Most of their training is done on the job while working for an employer who helps the apprentices learn their trade, in exchange for their continuing labour for an agreed period after they become skilled. Theoretical education may also be involved, informally via the workplace and/or by attending vocational schools while still being paid by the employer.



Subsequently governmental regulation and the licensing of polytechnics and vocational education formalised and bureaucratised the details of apprenticeship.

Modern analogs

The modern concept of an internship is similar to an apprenticeship.Universities still use apprenticeship schemes in their production of scholars: bachelors are promoted to masters and then produce a thesis under the oversight of a supervisor before the corporate body of the university recognises the achievement of the standard of a doctorate. Another view of this system is of graduate students in the role of apprentices, post-docs as journeymen, and professors as masters.

Also similar to apprenticeships are the professional development arrangements for new graduates in the professions of accountancy and the law a British example was training contracts known as 'articles of clerkship'. The learning curve in modern professional service firms, such as law firms or accountancies, generally resembles the traditional master-apprentice model: the newcomer to the firm is assigned to one or several more experienced colleagues (ideally partners in the firm) and learns his skills on the job.


Australian Apprenticeships is the new name for the scheme formerly known as 'New Apprenticeships'. Under the scheme, involving 400,000 people in 500 occupations, the Australian Government incentives and personal benefits programme are still the same. Australian Apprenticeships still encompass all apprenticeships and traineeships. They combine time at work with training and can be full-time, part-time or school-based.You can get apprenticeships starting at age 14 if you have a willing employer [cite web
title=Australian Apprenticeships Homepage


In France, apprenticeships also developed between the ninth and thirteenth centuries, with guilds structured around apprentices, journeymen and master craftsmen, continuing in this way until 1791, when the guilds were suppressed.

In 1851 the first law on apprenticeships came into force. From 1919, young people had to take 150 hours of theory and general lessons in their subject a year. This minimum training time rose to 360 hours a year in 1961, then 400 in 1986.

The first training centres for apprentices ("centres de formation d'apprentis", CFAs) appeared in 1961, and in 1971 apprenticeships were legally made part of professional training. In 1986 the age limit for beginning an apprenticeship was raised from 20 to 25. From 1987 the range of qualifications achieveable through an apprenticeship was widened to include the "brevet professionnel" (certificate of vocational aptitude), the "bac professionnel" (vocational baccalaureat diploma), the "brevet de technicien supérieur"(advanced technician's certificate), engineering diplomas and more.

On January 18 2005, President Jacques Chirac announced the introduction of a law on a programme for social cohesion comprising the three pillars of employment, housing and equal opportunities. The French government pledged to further develop apprenticeship as a path to success at school and to employment, based on its success: in 2005, 80% of young French people who had completed an apprenticeship entered employment. In France, the term denotes manual labor only. The plan aimed to raise the number of apprentices from 365,000 in 2005 to 500,000 in 2009. To achieve this aim, the government is, for example, granting tax relief for companies when they take on apprentices. (Since 1925 a tax has been levied to pay for apprenticeships.) The minister in charge of the campaign, Jean-Louis Borloo, also hoped to improve the image of apprenticeships with an information campaign, as they are often connected with academic failure at school and an ability to grasp only practical skills and not theory. After the civil unrest end of 2005, the government, led by prime minister Dominique de Villepin, announced a new law. Dubbed "law on equality of chances", it created the First Employment Contract as well as manual apprenticeship from as early as 14 years of age. From this age, students are allowed to quit the compulsory school system in order to quickly learn a vocation. This measure has long been a policy of conservative French political parties, and was met by tough opposition from trade unions and students.


Apprenticeships are part of Germany's dual education system, and as such form an integral part of many people's working life. Finding employment without having completed an apprenticeship is almost impossible. For some particular technical university professions, such as food technology, a completed apprenticeship is often recommended; for some, such as marine engineering it may even be mandatory.

Young people can learn one of 356 apprenticeship occupationsFact|date=August 2008 ("Ausbildungsberufe"), such as doctor's assistant, banker, dispensing optician, plumber or oven builder. The dual system means that apprentices spend most of their time in companies and the rest in formal education. Usually, they work for three to four days a week in the company and then spend one or two days at a vocational school ("Berufsschule"). These "Berufsschulen" have been part of the education system since the 19th century.

In 2001, two thirds of young people aged under 22 began an apprenticeship, and 78% of them completed it, meaning that approximately 51% of all young people under 22 have completed an apprenticeship.Fact|date=August 2008 One in three companies offered apprenticeships in 2003,Fact|date=August 2008 in 2004 the government signed a pledge with industrial unions that all companies except very small ones must take on apprentices.

The latent decrease of the German population due to low birth rates is now causing a lack of young people available to start an apprenticeship.


In 1969, a law (the "Berufsbildungsgesetz") was passed which regulated and unified the vocational training system and codified the shared responsibility of the state, the unions, associations and the chambers of trade and industry. The dual system was successful in both parts of the divided Germany. In the GDR, three quarters of the working population had completed apprenticeships.

Business professions

The precise skills and theory taught on German apprenticeships are strictly regulated. The employer is responsible for the entire education programme. Apprentices are not allowed to be employed until the end of the education and have only an apprenticeship contract. The full content of the apprentice education must be provided and taught by the employer. The time taken is also regulated. Each occupation learnt takes a different time, usually between 24 and 36 months.

Thus, everyone who has, for example, completed an apprenticeship as an "Industriekaufmann" (roughly: Industrial Manager) has learned the same skills and has attended the same courses in procurement and stocking up, controlling, staffing, accounting procedures, production planning, terms of trade and transport logistics and various other subjects.Someone who has not taken this apprenticeship or did not pass the final examinations at the chamber of industry and commerce is not allowed to call himself an "Industriekaufmann". An employment in such function would require this completed degree.

Trade and craft professions

The rules and laws for the trade and craftswork apprentices such as mechanics, bakers, joiners, etc. are as strict as and even broader than for the business professions. Here the procedures, titles and traditions still strongly reflect the medieval origin of the system.

After completing the 3 years of dual education, for example, a baker is allowed to called himself a "Bäckereigeselle" (bakery journeyman). After the apprenticeship the journeyman can enter the "Meisterschule" (master's school) and continue his education at evening courses or full-time. The graduation from the master's school leads to the title of a "Meister" master craftsman of his profession, so e.g. "Bäckermeister" (bakery master). A master is officially entered in the local trade register, the "Handwerksrolle" (the craftspeople's roll). A master craftsman is allowed to employ and to train new apprentices. In some mostly safety-related professions, e.g. that of electricians, only a master is allowed to found his own company.

License for educating apprentices

To employ and to educate apprentices requires a specific license. The AdA "Ausbildung der Ausbilder" (education of the educators) license needs to be acquired by a training at the chamber of industry and commerce.

The masters complete this license course within their own master's school. The training and examination of new masters is only possible for masters who have been working several years in their profession and who have been accepted by the chambers as a trainer or examiner.

Academic professionals, e.g. engineers, need to complete the AdA during or after their studies, usually by an one-year evening course.

The holder of the license is only allowed to train apprentices within his own field of expertise. For example a mechanical engineer would be able to educate industrial mechanics, but not e.g. laboratory assistants or builders.


In India, the Apprentices Act was enacted in 1961.Fact|date=December 2007 It regulates the programme of training of apprentices in the industry so as to conform to the syllabi, period of training etc. as laid down by the Central Apprenticeship Council and to utilise fully the facilities available in industry for imparting practical training with a view to meeting the requirements of skilled manpower for industry.

The Apprentices Act enacted in 1961 and was implemented effectively in 1962. Initially the Act envisaged training of trade apprentices. The Act was amended in 1973 to include training of graduate and diploma engineers as "Graduate" & "Technician" Apprentices. The Act was further amended in 1986 to bring within its purview the training of the 10+2 vocational stream as "Technician (Vocational)" Apprentices.

Overall responsibility is with the Directorate General of Employment & Training (DGE&T) in the Union Ministry of Labour. DGE&T is also responsible for implementation of the Act in respect of Trade Apprentices in the Central Govt. Undertakings & Departments. This is done through six Regional Directorates of Apprenticeship Training located at Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kanpur & Faridabad.

State Apprenticeship Advisers are responsible for implementation of the Act in respect of Trade Apprentices in State Government Undertakings/ Departments and Private Establishments. Department of Education in the Ministry of HRD is responsible for implementation of the Act in respect of Graduate, Technician & Technician (Vocational) Apprentices. This is done through four Boards of Apprenticeship Training located at Kanpur, Kolkata , Mumbai & Chennai.


In Turkey, apprenticeship has been part of the small business culture for centuries since the time of Seljuk Turks who claimed Anatolia as their homeland in 11th century.

There are three levels of apprenticeship. First level is the apprentice, i.e. the "cirak" in Turkish. The second level is pre-master which is called, "kalfa" in Turkish. The mastery level is called as "usta" and is the highest level of achievement. An 'usta' is eligible to take in and accept new 'ciraks' to train and bring them up. The training process usually starts when the small boy is of age 10-11 and becomes a full grown master at the age of 20-25. Many years of hard work and disciplining under the authority of the master is the key to the young apprentice's education and learning process.

In Turkey today there are many vocational schools that train young kids to gain skills to learn a new profession. The student after graduation looks for a job at the nearest local marketplace usually under the authority of a master.

United Kingdom

Apprenticeships have a long tradition in the United Kingdom, dating back to around the 12th century and flourishing by the 14th century. The parents or guardians of a minor would agree with a Guild's Master craftsman the conditions for an apprenticeship which would bind the minor for 5-9 years (e.g. from age 14 to 21). They would pay a premium to the craftsman and the contract would be recorded in an indenture.cite book |last=Aldrich |first=Richard |title=Lessons from History of Education |origyear=1997 in A. Heikkinen and R. Sultana (eds), Vocational Education and Apprenticeships in Europe |url= |accessdate=2008-06-15 |year=2005 |publisher=Routledge |isbn=0415358922 |pages=195-205 |chapter=13 - Apprenticeships in England] In 1563, the Statute of Artificers and Apprentices was passed to regulate and protect the apprenticeship system, forbidding anyone from practising a trade or craft without first serving a 7-year period as an apprentice to a mastercite web |url= |title= Research, education & online exhibitions > Family history > In depth guide to family history > People at work > Apprentices |publisher=The National Archives |accessdate=2008-06-16 ] (though in practice Freemen's sons could negotiate shorter terms).cite book |last=Dunlop |first=O. J. |title=English Apprenticeship and Child Labour, a History |origyear=1912 |publisher=Fisher Unwin |location=London |chapter=iv ]

From 1601, 'parish' apprenticeships under the Elizabethan Poor Law came to be used as a way of providing for poor, illegitimate and orphaned children of both sexes alongside the regular system of skilled apprenticeships, which tended to provide for boys from slightly more affluent backgrounds. These parish apprenticeships, which could be created with the assent of two Justices of the Peace, supplied apprentices for occupations of lower status such as farm labouring, brickmaking and menial household service.

In the early years of the Industrial Revolution entrepreneurs began to resist the restrictions of the apprenticeship system, [cite book |last=Langford |first=Paul |authorlink=Paul Langford |editor=Kenneth O. Morgan |title=The Oxford Illustrated History of Britain |origyear=1984 |accessdate=2008-06-16 |publisher=OUP |location=Oxford |isbn=0198226845 |pages=382 |chapter=7 - The Eighteenth Century ] and a legal ruling established that the Statute of Apprentices did not apply to trades that were not in existence when it was passed in 1563, thus excluding many new 18th century industries. In 1814 compulsory apprenticeship by indenture was abolished.

In modern times, apprenticeship became less important, especially as employment in heavy industry and artisan trades declined. Traditional apprenticeships reached their lowest point in the 1970s: by that time, training programmes were rare and people who were apprentices learned mainly by example.dubious|date=June 2008 In 1986, National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) were introduced, in an attempt to revitalise vocational training. Still, by 1990, apprenticeship took up only two-thirds of one percent of total employment.Fact|date=May 2008

In 1994, the Government introduced Modern Apprenticeships (since renamed 'Apprenticeships'), based on frameworks that are now devised by Sector Skills Councils. Apprenticeship frameworks contain a number of separately-certified elements:
*a knowledge-based element, typically certified through a qualification known as a ‘Technical Certificate’;
*a competence-based element, typically certified through an NVQ; and
*Key SkillsWorld Class Apprenticeships. The Government’s strategy for the future of Apprenticeships in England. DIUS/DCSF, 2008]

By 2005 there were now more than 160 apprenticeship frameworks.Fact|date=May 2008 Unlike traditional apprenticeships, the current scheme extends beyond craft and skilled trades to parts of the service sector with no apprenticeship tradition. The Department for Children, Schools and Families has stated its intention to make apprenticeships a "mainstream" part of England's education system.

Employers who offer apprenticeship places have an employment contract with their apprentices, but off-the-job training and assessment is wholly funded by the state for apprentices aged between 16 and 18. In England, Government only contributes 50% of the cost of training for apprentices aged 19 and over. Government funding agencies (in England, the Learning and Skills Council) contract with 'learning providers' to deliver apprenticeships, and may accredit them as a Centre of Vocational Excellence or [ National Skills Academy] . These organisations provide off-the-job tuition and manage the bureaucratic workload associated with the apprenticeships. Providers are usually private training companies but might also be Further Education colleges, voluntary sector organisations, Chambers of Commerce or employers themselves.

United States

Apprenticeship programs in the United States are regulated by the National Apprenticeship Act, also known as the "Fitzgerald Act."

American apprenticeship educational regime

In the United States, education officials and nonprofit organizations who seek to emulate the apprenticeship system in other nations have created school to work education reforms. They seek to link academic education to careers. Some programs include job shadowing, watching a real worker for a short period of time, or actually spending significant time at a job at no or reduced pay that would otherwise be spent in academic classes or working at a local business. Some legislators raised the issue of child labor laws for unpaid labor or jobs with hazards.

:"See also standards based education reform" which eliminates different standards for vocational or academic tracks

The standards based education reform movement was based on research by the NCEE (headed by Marc Tucker) in Japan, Denmark, Singapore and Germany. The study "America's Choice, High Skills or Low Wages" found that each of these countries has a central ministry which requires a standard curriculum that all students must take with no exceptions. [ [] Raising the Bar: The Promise of Standards-Based Education Reform A Forum — February 25, 2000 ] The NCEE study proposed creating internationally-benchmarked standards for educational achievement. All education programs would lead to a skill certificate that "certifies that an individual has mastered occupational skills at levels that are a least as challenging as skill standards endorsed by the National Skills Standards Board". The National Skill Standards Board was established as part of Goals 2000 to match the competencies cited by the Department of Labor's SCANS report. The NCEE study, "A Human Resources Development Plan for the United States," stated, "These new professional and technical certificates and degrees typically are won within three years of acquiring the general education certificate [Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM)] .. captures all of the essentials of the apprenticeship idea...redefines college... can access the system through the requirement that their employers spend an amount equal to 1 and 1/2 percent of their salary and wage bill on training leading to national skill certification." [ [] Outcome-Based Education Certificates Required for Employment]

In contrast to the scenario of the NCEE study "America's Choice, High Skills or Low Wages", European students in nations such as Germany are actually tracked by test scores between college-bound, skilled apprenticeship and unskilled labor tracks, rather than held to one uniform passing standard. [ [] EDUCATION I: Primary and Secondary Education] After elementary school, half of all German students are tracked to the "Hauptschule" (a five-year, upper-elementary school for manual trades). At fifteen, students enter this trade school and become apprentices in their chosen professions, graduating with trade certifications at age 18. About one in four are assigned to the Realschule for training in white-collar jobs in finance or administration (which includes on-the-job training from ages 16 to 18). Originally, only one quarter of German students attended the Gymnasium (college-preparatory high school, graduation from which is necessary to attend a college or university). In Germany, apprenticeships essentially end a person's education by age 16, whereas in the U.S. apprenticeships could occur at any age.

In the United States, school to work programs usually occur only in high school. American high schools were introduced in the early 20th century to educate students of all ability and interests in one learning community rather than prepare a small number for college. Traditionally, American students are tracked within a wide choice of courses based on ability, with vocational courses (such as auto repair and carpentry) tending to be at the lower end of academic ability and trigonometry and pre-calculus at the upper end.

American education reformers have sought to end such tracking, which is seen as a barrier to opportunity. By contrast, the system studied by the NCEE actually relies much more heavily on tracking. Education officials in the U.S., based largely on school redesign proposals by NCEE and other organizations, have chosen to use criterion-referenced tests that define one high standard that must be achieved by all students to receive a uniform diploma. American education policy under the "No Child Left Behind Act" has as an official goal the elimination of the achievement gap between populations. This has often led to the need for remedial classes in college. [ [] SAISD Fundamental Beliefs: Excellence and equity in student performance are achievable for all students.] .

Many U.S. states now requiring passing a high school graduation examination to ensure that students across all ethnic, gender and income groups possess the same skills. In states such as Washington, critics have questioned whether this ensures success for all or just creates massive failure (as only half of all 10th graders have demonstrated they can meet the standards). [ [ Seattle Times] , September 09, 2006 "WASL results show strong gains, puzzling declines across the state" By Linda Shaw]

There is a movement in the U.S. to revive vocational education. For example, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) has opened the Finishing Trades Institute (FTI). The FTI is working towards national accreditation so that it may offer associate and bachelor degrees that integrate academics with a more traditional apprentice programs. The IUPAT has joined forces with the Professional Decorative Painters Association (PDPA) to build educational standards using a model of apprenticeship created by the PDPA.

Example of a U.S. apprenticeship program

Persons interested in learning to become electricians can join one of several apprenticeship programs offered jointly by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the National Electrical Contractors Association. No background in electrical work is required. A minimum age of 18 is required. There is no maximum age. Men and women are equally invited to participate. The organization in charge of the program is called the National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee [] .

Apprentice electricians work 37 to 40 hours per week at the trade under the supervision of a journeyman electrician and receive pay and benefits. They spend an additional 6 hours per week in classroom training. At the conclusion of training (five years for commercial and industrial construction, less for residential construction), apprentices become journeymen (and women). All of this is offered at no charge, except for the cost of books (which is approximately $200 per year). Persons completing this program are considered highly skilled by employers and command high pay and benefits. Other unions such as the Ironworkers, Sheet Metal Workers, Plasterers, Bricklayers and others offer similar programs.

Trade associations such as the [ Independent Electrical Contractors] and [ Associated Builders and Contractors] also offer a variety of apprentice training programs.

ee also

*Apprentices mobility
*German model
*Indentured servant
*Vocational education
*Educational Theory of Apprenticeship


Further reading

*"Modern Apprenticeships: the way to work", The Report of the Modern Apprenticeship Advisory Committee, 2001 []
*"Apprenticeship in the British "Training Market", Paul Ryan and Lorna Unwin, University of Cambridge and University of Leicester, 2001 []
*"Creating a ‘Modern Apprenticeship’: a critique of the UK’s multi-sector, social inclusion approach" Alison Fuller and Lorna Unwin, 2003 [ (pdf)]
*"Apprenticeship systems in England and Germany: decline and survival." Thomas Deissinger in: "Towards a history of vocational education and training (VET) in Europe in a comparative perspective", 2002 [ (pdf)]
*"European vocational training systems: the theoretical context of historical development." Wolf-Dietrich Greinert, 2002 in "Towards a history of vocational education and training (VET) in Europe in a comparative perspective." [ (pdf)]
*"Apprenticeships in the UK- their design, development and implementation", Miranda E Pye, Keith C Pye, Dr Emma Wisby, Sector Skills Development Agency, 2004 [ (pdf)]
*"L’apprentissage a changé, c’est le moment d’y penser !", Ministère de l’emploi, du travail et de la cohésion sociale, 2005
*"Learning on the Shop Floor: Historical Perspectives on Apprenticeship", Bert De Munck, Steven L. Kaplan, Hugo Soly. Berghahn Books, 2007. [ (Preview on Google books)]

External links

* [ City & Guilds Centre for Skills Development, an international research & development body concerned with vocational skills]
* [ Facts about Germany: Apprenticeships, Federal Foreign Office]
* [ Apprenticeships - a great idea (UK)]
* [ "L'Apprenti", in French]
* [ Article on the history of apprenticeship in the U.S.] from EH.NET
* [ Academic Apprentices: Still an Ideal?] , Barry Yeoman, "Duke Magazine"
* [] - Get a detailed look into the Electrical Trade and what it takes to become an Apprentice Electrician.

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