Apprentices Orientation Manual


Tool focus

This tool is an example of formal orientation material for apprentices who are about to participate in a dual apprenticeship programme.

Target group

Public TVET authorities/institutions are considering reviewing or introducing TVET student orientation material for example a trainee handbook or similar.


The Programme: Malawi - Formal Apprenticeship Programmes

In Malawi, the Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TEVETA) is the regulatory body of Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training (TEVET). Established in 1999 by an Act of Parliament with the mandate to regulate, promote and facilitate the sustainable provision of quality TEVET in Malawi.
Formal apprenticeship is one of the TEVET programmes regulated and facilitated by the TEVETA. The programmes are implemented as modular competency-based training delivered by registered TEVET providers, national and community technical colleges, Community Skills Development Centres and selected employers.

Available Apprenticeship Programmes

Administrative studies                                                  Automobile Mechanics Bricklaying                                                                       Carpentry and Joinery Cosmetology                                                                    Fabrication and Welding

Electrical Installation and Electronics                         Food Production

General Fitting                                                                Edible Horticulture

Information and Communication Technology          Motor Cycle Mechanics

Painting and Decoration                                               Plumbing

Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanics         Solar Photovoltaic

Tailoring and Fashion Design                                       Tour Guide

Vehicle Body Repairing and Refinishing                     Wood Work Machining

Source: 2022 Training Opportunities TEVETA.


Formal apprenticeship is accessible for those holding a Malawi School Certificate of Education (MSCE) and/or an equivalent. Credit passes in English, Mathematics and a Science subject is an added advantage. A recruitment process follows an advertisement, application, shortlisting, and ultimate selection of successful candidates for enrolment at registered TCs.

Women and people with disabilities are strongly encouraged to apply. Selected candidates are notified through newspapers and electronic media. Trainees under this programme are called apprentices.

The three-year apprenticeship training programmes are performed at registered training providers as classroom and workshop training as well as in selected companies as work-based training – industrial attachment3 . As illustrated in the below three-year training plan, each academic year is broken down into three terms, each around 12 weeks with standardised breaks around April, August/September and December. Furthermore, the apprenticeship programmes encompass one year of initial full-time training at a TC. The second and third years are split into two terms of enterprise-based training and one term of TC instruction.

That means that in year one apprentice spends January, February and March in a TC, while in year 2 and 3 apprentices spend this time on industrial attachment. After a short holiday in April, year 1 apprentices return to the TC while year 2 and 3 apprentices return to industrial attachment until the end of July. The holiday break extends from the beginning of August into the first week of September for all apprentices. After that, all trainees return to the TC before starting exams in November.

ASPYEE-The Programme: Malawi - Formal Apprenticeship Programmes
Source:    TVET Trainee Orientation Manual. TEVET Authority.


The Tool: Apprentice Orientation Manual4

The Tool: Apprentice Orientation Manual The apprenticeship programme is financed on a cost-sharing basis. The apprentices pay pre-set tuition and examination fees directly to the training providers, while the TEVETA pays a subsidy for the cost of training at the TEVET providers.

Although the title is ‘TEVET Trainee Orientation Manual’ it is an orientation manual for apprentices enrolled on one of the apprenticeship programmes.

The manual responds to the need for a common and easy-to-use orientation towards the apprenticeship programme when a newly selected apprentice enrols at one of the TCs.

The manual will not provide an orientation to the vocations but rather to apprenticeship as a TVET learning program and to the framework within which the programs are implemented.

Acknowledging that the new apprentices will enter an almost ‘alien world’ during a period of their lives where they go from being a youth to becoming an adult. Many will leave their home to live in a new town, together with other youths in a dormitory.
Along with learning, future employment and livelihood aspirations, this will imply a number of challenges and questions.

The purpose of the manual is to provide general information and tries to answer ‘frequently asked questions’ as illustrated by the following quotation:

“As a new trainee at TEVET, you may have a number of questions about your course and life at college. This Manual has been produced to help you find the answers to your questions. The information provided should also help you to make the most of your time at TEVET, act professionally and respectfully towards yourself and others, and successfully complete your course.”

To help answer some of the questions the manual has been formulated around a ‘number of frequently asked questions that TEVET trainees need answers to in order to have a fulfilling college experience’.

Key elements of the manual

After a general introduction to apprenticeship, which explains what apprenticeship programmes are all about in the Malawian context, the manual provides information on what competency-based training is, the responsibility of TEVETA and the TEVET Qualifications Framework.

Following that, the manual offers an overview of the structure and organisation of the apprenticeship programme, showing the split between TVET institutions and the industrial attachment part of the programme.

Assessment of apprentices

How the apprentice will be assessed will likely be a subject of special interest to the apprentices. The apprentices are assessed both at TC and during the industrial attachment. At TC there are two types of assessment:

1.    Continuous Assessments, which are further broken down into:

  1. Formal theoretical and practical assessments at the end of a module (conducted by each college and internally verified)
  2. In-class assessments that are externally verified

2.    Summative assessments (run at the end of each year as a national exam by the Assessment and Certification Unit).

During the industrial attachment, the Apprenticeship Training Logbook will be used for assessing learning progress. The apprentice is given the ‘Apprenticeship Training Logbook’ when starting the apprenticeship programme. The Logbook belongs to the apprentice and outlines all the different competencies that the apprentices are expected to master after completion of various modules. It becomes the tool for ongoing assessments by supervisors at the TC and during the industrial attachment.
The summative assessments are both theoretical and practical. The below table shows the different content and duration depending on the level and type of assessment.


Type of questions



Multiple choice and short answer questions

1 hour and 30 minutes


Multiple choice, short answer questions and structured questions

2 hours


Structured essay questions

3 hours


Structured essay questions

3 hours

Source:    TVET Trainee Orientation Manual. TEVET Authority.


Practical tests are developed by assessors from the ‘Assessment and Certification Unit’ and vary from vocation to vocation and from level to level as shown below.




Maximum 8 hours


Maximum 10 hours


Maximum 12 hours


Maximum 12 hours

Source:    TVET Trainee Orientation Manual. TEVET Authority.


The industrial supervisor at the employer will register the apprentice’s daily attendance along with the daily assignments in the Logbook that will stay at the workplace during the attachment. The supervisor manages the assessments and the employer will keep an updated Logbook during the industrial attachment. TEVETA officers will come to monitor your progress before an external verifier will verify your achievements.


Overall percentage achieved in assessment


80% - 100%


65% - 79%


50% - 64%


0% to 49%

Source:    TVET Trainee Orientation Manual. TEVET Authority.


There are four grading levels namely: Distinction, Credit, Pass, and Fail as shown above. Successful graduates will be awarded certification at levels one to four. Assistant operatives (Level 1), operatives (Level 2), artisans (Level 3) and technicians (Level 4).


Vocation type

Credit requirements

Course content

Qualification title


Assistant Operative


Foundational modules

TEVET Foundation Certificate




Intermediate level modules

TEVET Intermediate Certificate




Advance level modules

TEVET Advanced Certificate




Diploma level modules, incl. managerial and supervisory skills

TEVET Diploma

Source:    TVET Trainee Orientation Manual. TEVET Authority. 

The apprentice is asked not to be late for the test, which - considering the length of the tests – is probably necessary.


Financial support

The possible financing support by the TEVETA will be equally important for the apprentice. The apprentice has two possibilities - a bursary and a scholarship when enrolled at the TC - and will receive an allowance during industrial attachment. (For the allowance during industrial attachment see below).

The bursary option actually implies two possibilities, both offered based on needs. The first possibility will cover only the tuition fees and the second will cover both the tuition and boarding fees. The apprentices have to fill in a ‘Bursary Application Form’, and hand it over to the management of the TC who will review the application. On this basis, a shortlist of candidates is forwarded to the TEVETA. The TEVETA will interview all the shortlisted candidates and make a final selection. The manual mentions that the bursary is transferred directly to the TC and that 20% to 25% of the applying apprentices receive a bursary. Such information help to avoid misunderstandings, e.g. that the money is transferred to the apprentice, as well as what the changes regarding a bursary might be. The scholarship is available based on academic excellence. The manual explains that the apprentice should contact the regional TEVETA service centre and the telephones numbers are provided.

Apprentices are encouraged to engage in part-time/temporary work as long as it does not infer with their attendance and performance. A few tips are given and apprentices are advised to turn to their instructor for help.

Industrial attachment

The manual provides information on the industrial attachment. There are three ways of getting an industrial attachment:

  1. The apprentices himself/herself finds an employer that will take on an apprentice.
  2. The TEVETA finds an employer.
  3. The TC finds an employer.

The manual explains the advantages of apprentices finding an employer themselves. It is an opportunity for the apprentices to learn how to identify employment opportunities and write and submit an application. The TEVETA has to be informed to ensure that the attachment is formalised and adequately monitored. The manual realistically points out that the TEVETA and the TC might not be able to find a sufficient number of employers for industrial attachment. This may affect the apprenticeship programme as a whole. If no employers are identified, the programme will lose its central work-based learning element, thus compromising the intended enhancement of employability of the graduates.

During the industrial attachment, the apprentices are entitled to an allowance that will vary from year to year. During the second year, the entire allowance will go directly to the apprentice. During the third year, TEVETA will pay one half, and the employer will pay the other half of the allowance to the apprentice. As for the four-year programme, TEVETA will pay 25% and the employers will pay 75% of the allowance to the apprentice.

Before starting the industrial attachment, the apprentice should sign an apprenticeship contract. The contract will provide basic information on the employer (name, address etc.) and the apprentice (age, educational achievements etc.). The contract will specify the duration of the attachment and describe the responsibilities of the employer and apprentices, including how the apprentice is expected to behave (see below). The manual mentions that the contract should be signed by the employer and the apprentice, if he/she is over 18 years old or by the apprentice’s parents/guardian, if the apprentice is under 18 years old.

During the industrial attachment, the employer will offer insurance and if employees are provided with food, drink and lodging, the apprentice is entitled to the same.

Behaviour of the apprentice

The manual contains some information regarding misconduct of the apprentice but does not specify what to do in the case of misconduct or breaching the contract by the employer.

Finally the manual is offering information on how to behave and act professionally in college, health/family planning, HIV and sexual violence. Cartoon-like illustrations are used to convey the message.

Trainee Pregnancy Policy


A whole section is dedicated to family planning and pregnancy referring to the TEVETA Trainee Pregnancy Policy, which outlines expectations from and support provided to female apprentices who may become pregnant when enrolled at a TC. The policy focuses on being supportive, be non-judgmental, respect confidentiality, the right of re-admission and providing advice and guidance on family planning. For example, the manual points out that all TC staff should be supportive. It should be ensured that the pregnant apprentice may continue her training until the 32nd week of pregnancy, unless health complications make it impossible. To support the pregnant apprentice, a ‘Trainee Pregnancy Support Plan’ will be established jointly by the TC and the apprentice.

At the end of the manual, space is provided for the apprentice to enter TC staff contact details, health information, police services information and contact details.

  • Starting at a TVET training institution marks a new and life-changing period in the trainee's life regardless if it is a school based or a dual apprenticeship programme. This will naturally raise many questions, not at least asked by the parents/guardians. Providing a formal orientation manual to the new trainee/apprentice or a similar document (e.g. some trainee introduction guide, student handbook etc.) seems to be very helpful and relevant for addressing some of the questions and uncertainties.
  • Every TVET teacher/instructor will be able to list a number of questions and concerns that they encounter with every new cohort enrolling. The manual is designed around frequently asked questions and the information which an apprentice and his/her parents typically need.
  • It will probably not be possible to prepare a manual that addresses all questions and concerns and yet remain handy and useful. It is, therefore, necessary to find the right balance between the amount of information and the level of detail to be presented as well as the need to make the manual attractive by being concise and to the point.
  • The manual is user-friendly and tailored to the target group, which makes the manual attractive to the apprentices. It is also relevant that the language, layout and format appeal to young people, e.g. by using cartoon-like illustrations.
  • It is important that the manual is seen as a ‘live document’ – meaning that it should be updated regularly to remain relevant. This will not only be a question of the content but also of its style and, as mentioned, of its accessibility to the apprentices.

  • Developing an orientation manual implies costs, not only for its development but also for keeping it up to date. The maintenance cost might be overlooked but should be considered at the outset. If the development of an orientation manual is part of a development partner supported project, the maintenance costs will likely rest with the relevant local authorities holding the responsibility for the orientation manual. Consequently, it is important to consider maintenance costs and efforts already during the design phase. This would ensure that the manual is developed in such a way that maintenance costs are kept as low as possible and that the review activities become part of the annual planning activities of the authority/institution responsible for the manual.