Slovakia has recently adopted a new law on work-based learning. The new law was adopted in response to the unemployment rate for school graduates increasing to over 30% in recent years and the shortage of employees working in factories and plants. It was inspired by the dual education system operating in many EU member states.

Within the framework of dual training for specialists, employers are now able to design specific training curricula tailored to their needs or requirements. The specialised teaching is also funded by employers, and therefore they can enter into an employment pre-contract directly with apprentices. Under such employment pre-contracts, apprentices undertake to work for the employer for a certain time period, which can be agreed up to three years after graduation, or otherwise refund the costs relating to the specialised teaching.

The government has incentivised companies to participate in the training scheme with the aid of tax concessions, and has also reserved 26 million euros for the period from now to 2018 for encouraging participation.

The good news is that apprentices working in those sectors which are lacking graduates will receive motivation in the form of a scholarship from the State.

In relation to designing specialised teaching courses as part of apprenticeship schemes, employers will initially be certified by the relevant professional governing bodies or chambers of commerce.  Already 130 companies who intend to launch the cooperation with schools from the incoming school year have submitted the request for certification. These employers will train and support around 1,800 apprentices in total.

It will still be possible for employers to participate in specialised teaching schemes, as well as employment pre-contracts, outside the framework of the proposed new dual education system. In other words, employers will still be able to participate in apprenticeship and on-the-job training schemes without having to offer specialised teaching directly themselves, e.g. by providing schools with the opportunity for training for apprentices within the employer's premises. This type of cooperation is likely to be of interest primarily for smaller enterprises as it will mean fewer financial and administrative efforts; these employers will by extension have less impact on and input into the training curricula but will not be entitled to receive tax concessions.