CENFIM’s apprenticeship courses last about 106 weeks and include 43 weeks on work-based learning in a company. The courses are organised in three training periods based on an alternance model. Each training period begins with centre-based training and finishes with work-based learning as follows:

  • 1st training period – 34 weeks including a 9 week full-time placement;
  • 2nd training period – 36 weeks including a 15 week full-time placement;
  • 3rd training period – 36 weeks including a 19 week full-time placement.

The work-based programme at CENFIM involves five groups of people: the employer; the training centre; the training coordinator; the work-based learning tutor; and the learner. To ensure its sustainability, each work-based programme is developed in three stages:

  • before the learner starts the work-based activities;
  • monitoring and support during the period of work-based learning;
  • follow up and evaluation.

CENFIM uses ISO 9001:2000 as a basis for implementing the quality cycle. This involves:

  • Plan: CENFIM visits each employer to check if the technical conditions are appropriate to receive trainees. After approving the employer, there is a formal meeting to agree how the training content will be developed, the responsibilities of each organisation and the working hours and activities that will be completed by the learner. In addition, CENFIM and the employer identify staff who will monitor the training and ensure it is in accordance with the protocol;
  • Implement: the protocol is signed between CENFIM, the employer and the trainee (or the trainee’s parents). As part of the training process there is an early meeting between the training coordinator and the work-based learning tutor in order to agree how training will be organised, how everyone will communicate during the training, and how performance will be monitored;
  • Evaluate: the learner’s performance is assessed by the work-based learning tutor, the training coordinator from CENFIM and the trainee. The assessment includes judgments on the trainee’s integration into the workplace, participation, application of knowledge, interpersonal relationships, teamwork, punctuality and attendance. CENFIM’s training coordinator provides a report on visits to the employer as this is part of the process of evaluating the training process. At the end of each period of work-based learning, each trainee writes a report and reflects on the experience during a meeting with other apprentices at CENFIM;
  • Review: information from the work-based learning process is analysed by CENFIM’s coordinator and training team and areas for improvement are identified.

As an ISO 9001 certified organisation, CENFIM uses five quality indicators which are related to the following EQAVET indicators:

  • No. 1. Relevance of quality assurance systems for VET providers:

CENFIM has been voluntarily certified under ISO 9001:2000 since 2004.

  • No. 4. Completion rate in VET programmes:

Absences and dropouts from the apprenticeship courses are monitored each month. In October 2013, the dropout rate was approximately 6%.

  • No. 5. Placement rate in VET programme:

Former trainees complete three questionnaires: on the day their course finishes and after six and twelve months. This information helps to monitor the effectiveness of CENFIM’s training provision.

  • No. 6. Utilisation of acquired skills at the workplace:

Six months after they complete their course, trainees and their employers are asked whether the skills acquired during training are used at work. This information helps to monitor the effectiveness of CENFIM’s training provision.

  • No. 9. Mechanisms to identify training needs in the labour market:

Every two years, CENFIM undertakes an employer survey to identify the training needs in the metal and engineering technology sector.

The alternance model has helped to develop synergies between the VET provider and the labour market. It has also led to a 90% employment rate for apprentices. In addition the post qualifying questionnaires to employers have shown how much the apprentices use the skills they acquired during their training.

Throughout the work-based learning process there are regular meetings between CENFIM and the employers to monitor progress. These allow for the whole programme to be evaluated and this leads to continuous evaluation.

On average, CENFIM works with 600-700 companies on work-based learning programmes and approximately 2,000 trainees complete an apprenticeship each year. Each trainee achieves a NQF Level 4 qualification which includes an upper-secondary school certificate and a vocational certificate.

For more information on this case study, contact:

CENFIM - Vocational Training Centre of the Metal Industry: www.cenfim.pt

Contact person: Vitor Dias – [email protected]

City: Lisbon, Portugal.

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