In Croatia, crafts and companies which plan to take apprentices for some of vocational education programmes for craft occupations need to have a license issued by the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts. In order to acquire the license, they need to fulfill certain requirements as the basis for the quality apprenticeship at the workplace.
The requirements are as following:
- the appropriate working space (in accordance with minimal technical and other requirements determined by legal acts for the specific sector);
- the appropriate equipment (machines, tools, etc.) which enables to conduct apprenticeship for the specific occupation (minimally 70% of planned learning outcomes must be covered);
- taking all measures of protection at the workplace and respecting required sanitary and health standards;
- employed mentor, who can be the craftsman himself, or employee at the craft or company working full hours and having the required qualification proposed by the Crafts Act.
Exceptionally, the craft or company which is able to meet the requirements for conducting apprenticeship with minimally 50% of planned learning outcomes covered for the specific occupation can sign the Agreement of mutual apprenticeship with another craft or company which already has the license and should provide the remaining 20% of planned learning outcomes. Until 2020, there was no procedure to regulate licenses for new occupations which have been introduced by merging two or more occupations (e.g. automotive mechatronics repairman which has been designed by merging auto mechanic and auto electrician), and therefore the concept of mutual apprenticeship has been introduced. The Agreement of mutual apprenticeship will enable issuing of licenses for mutual apprenticeship and easier monitoring of data for apprentices who educate themselves for these kinds of occupations.
The license duration is seven years. This novelty has been introduced in amendments of Crafts Act from January 2020 with the aim to introduce the mechanism for monitoring issued licenses. Before amendments, the license did not have the duration period and would be canceled only in exceptional cases. However, by putting the duration period, the quality will be improved since issued licenses will be possible to monitor and improve the quality of apprenticeship. On the other hand, all licenses issued before amendments will undergo the re-licensing procedure.
These procedures show how much emphasis is put on quality assurance in apprenticeship for craft occupations. The big emphasis is put on the safety of students learning at the workplace as well as the high quality of acquiring planned learning outcomes. Mentors’ work with students is highly regarded in the community, which proves the awareness of crafts and companies about their social responsibility and contribution to the education of young people. According to Cedefop’s Apprenticeship Review for Croatia ‘crafts emphasize the following characteristics of a good mentor as the most important: (a) the flexibility in the sense of ability to adapt to new situations; (b) previous experience in working with students’ (Cedefop 2018: 71). Also, licensed crafts and companies are one of stakeholders participating in education process, which establishes the partnership between the world of labour and educational sector.
Also, since the raising of the quality of VET for crafts has been a very important element of Chamber's everyday work for 20 years, the participation in Erasmus+ projects such as Bequal.app is another way to support this aim. The project aim is to develop the quality assurance in apprenticeship and other work-based learning forms in project countries by promoting the benchmarking culture, measuring quality indicators, and connecting VET providers and employers.
More about the project: http://www.bequalapp.eu/en/.
Cedefop (2019). Apprenticeship review: Croatia. Improving apprenticeships through stronger support and care. Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union. Thematic country reviews.http://data.europa.eu/doi/10.2801/97707