New report defines world-class apprenticeships as those rooted in sector skills, knowledge and progression to employment

Analysis of leading countries points to defining features of world-class apprenticeships with lessons for the Middle East

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, August 29th 2016 – A new report has been released in the Middle East from the University of Derby, supported by Pearson, which looks at some of the world’s most heralded apprenticeship systems. The report is particularly useful for the Middle East, where many countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, look to vocational education as a means through which economic diversification and reduced economic reliance on oil can be achieved.

The report’s main author, Dr Ruth Mieschbuehler, interviewed some of the world’s leading apprenticeship reformers in countries such as Germany, Denmark, Australia and the Netherlands. The following characteristics are identified in the report as being particularly important for a strong apprenticeship system:

  • extended apprenticeships of between three to four years;
  • broad and in-depth scientific and industrial skills and knowledge;
  • the presence of a ‘master’ in the company to train an apprentice;
  • high-quality knowledge-based education and training;
  • recognition through an occupational title on completion of the training;
  • apprentices to acquire all the skills and knowledge necessary to work effectively in an occupation;
  • apprentices to become skilled workers in an occupational area with a critical and creative approach; and
  • progression routes into employment as well as into further education and training.

Commenting on the report, Ruth Mieschbuehler said: “This is the first time ever that world-class apprenticeship standards have been identified drawing on interviews with some of the world’s leading apprenticeship reformers. The indicators can be used to create criteria against which all apprenticeship provision can be benchmarked and the recommendations will point towards a higher quality offering for apprentices and drive forward world-class apprenticeship standards in other countries.”

Mark Andrews, who is responsible for Pearson’s vocational offering in the Middle East believes that this report is timely for the GCC, as governments across the region seek to secure future growth through apprenticeship-based initiatives. He says: “Commendably, the UAE and Saudi Governments, like others in the region, have made a strong commitment to vocational and apprenticeship-based education. This kind of hands-on, work-based education will play a key role in building highly diversified, industrial-driven economies that can compete in a competitive, globally-oriented market.

“This report is valuable as it provides concrete advice on what we need to do here in this region to ensure our apprenticeships are world-class. Giving young apprentices in the Middle East the skills and training they need to kick-start rewarding careers is just one of the benefits of a strong apprenticeship system. Another is reducing unemployment and the much-discussed ‘skills gap’ facing the region, as employers will have access to a growing number of highly capable apprentices, skilled in the areas necessary for success in 21st Century workplaces”.

Commenting, Rod Bristow, President of Pearson in the UK said: “In addition to supporting this research Pearson has also convened a panel of world-leading education experts to advise us on the development of all our new qualifications. On apprenticeships the advice of the panel is clear: qualifications have a major role in supporting learner mobility and Pearson will focus work on those trailblazers including a qualification in their apprenticeship programme.”

The full report can be found at: