According to European Commission’s policy handbook under the name: “Work-Based Learning in Europe. Practices and Policy Pointers”,http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/repository/education/policy/vocational-policy/doc/alliance/work-based-learning-in-europe_en.pdfwork-based learning (WBL) is a fundamental aspect of vocational training – it is directly linked to the mission of VET to help learners acquire knowledge, skills and competences which are essential in working life.

Three main models of WBL can be identified across Europe:

  • Alternance schemes or apprenticeships are typically known in Austria and Germany as the "dual system". These are fundamentally based on the integration of companies as training providers together with VET schools or other education/training institutes. In these programmes, learners spend a significant time on training in companies.
  • A second model of WBL is school-based VET which includes on-the-job training periods in companies. On-the-job training periods typically cover internships, work placements or traineeships that are incorporated as a compulsory or optional element of VET programmes leading to formal qualifications.
  • Finally, WBL that is integrated in a school-based programme, through on-site labs, workshops, kitchens, restaurants, junior or practice firms, simulations or real business/industry project assignments. The aim is to create "real life" work environments.

Work-based learning is an example of a win-win situation, and notably when the learning takes place in a company, as with apprenticeships.According to CEDEFOP,apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning help young people make smoother transitions from school/vocational education to employment

There is broad consensus in Europe that apprenticeships can be an efficient way of addressing labour market imbalances. Thus, the European Commission’s communication, Rethinking Education: Investing in skills for better socio-economic outcomes (2012) identified quality apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning as a strategic priority. 

Despite this recognition, obstacles to establishing good quality apprenticeship schemes persist. Several necessary conditions must converge, which are not always present. The European Commission adopted a proposal for a European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships in October 2017. This initiative is part of the New Skills Agenda for Europe, launched in June 2016.

For more information, please visit:http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/el/events-and-projects/projects/apprenticeships-work-based-learning