Part 4 73 VPET SERVICES designated under the Apprenticeship Ordinance whereby youngsters aged 14 to 18 years who are employed in one of the designated trades must enter into an apprenticeship contract with their employers. While the contract must be registered with the Office of the Director of Apprenticeship, contracts in respect of other trades, or for apprentices aged 19 or above, may be registered voluntarily. An apprenticeship normally lasts for two to four years. Holders of special qualifications obtained prior to his/her apprenticeship training, including completion of the first-year study of relevant DVE or HD programmes, may be allowed to shorten the training period. 4.31 Apprenticeship Officers advise employers and assist them in the training and employment of apprentices. They regularly visit workplaces where apprentices are employed to ensure that training programmes are properly implemented. They also assess the training progress of apprentices, and when necessary, mediate in disputes arising from their contracts. 4.32 In addition to workplace and classroom training, apprentices are given various opportunities to gain both local and international exposure and experience in order to enhance their skills and competencies. There is an annual Outstanding Apprentice Award to recognise the achievement and performance of apprentices. Besides, selected apprentices are also given the opportunities to take part in overseas visits, training and the WorldSkills Competition. EARN AND LEARN SCHEME 4.33 The Earn and Learn (E&L) Scheme has been piloted sinceAY 2014/15 and is well received by industries and trainees. Over 7,700 trainees have benefited from the Scheme with the participation of around 550 employers as at May 2022. The Government regularised the E&L Scheme to offer 1,200 places per year starting from AY 2019/20 with the increment of subsidy to a maximum of HK$90,000 per trainee. In AY 2021/22, the Scheme covers 43 programmes in five industry sectors, namely Engineering & Technology, Design, Jewellery & Creative Industry, Healthcare Services, Transportation and Testing & Certification. Four more programmes will be offered under the E&L Scheme in AY 2022/23, including the Higher Diploma in Health Studies, Higher Diploma in Cybersecurity, Higher Diploma in AI and Mobile Robotics, and Higher Diploma in Aviation and e-Logistics.