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Belgium: Brussels opens Europe’s biggest counselling and guidance centre 'Cité des métiers'

Brussels’ first counselling and guidance centre Cité des métiers was opened on 23 April 2018, in the presence of the European Employment Commissioner, Marianne Thyssen, and several ministers from the Brussels Region. Based on a multi-partner and bilingual initiative, this one-stop shop for life-long guidance and counselling is designed to improve access to all types of life-long learning, including vocational education and training (VET).

Based on the initial model created in Paris in 1993 and awarded a quality label in 2015, the Brussels Cité des métiers includes a new 1 100 square metre interactive space - the biggest in Europe - for accessing counselling and guidance. The initiative presents significant challenges as it is the first project to bring together all the guidance, employment, training and education stakeholders (both French- and Dutch-speaking) in the Brussels Region. Since the institutional context in Brussels involves many stakeholders, the aim is to provide local residents with a single point of contact, so they can be sure which stakeholder to contact.

Primary school pupils, jobseekers, those wishing to retrain, recent graduates: the Cité des métiers has a single purpose for all these, which is to provide better lifelong guidance and counselling. The service offers people who are looking for information or advice the resources they need to develop their professional career; it is open to all, anonymous and free of charge. Visitors receive guidance on how to draw up an education or career plan and can take advantage of ultramodern ICT equipment, individual consultations and a wide range of group activities (such as information sessions, CV workshops and job days).

One of the first visitors was 32-year-old Félix, who was particularly enthusiastic: ‘The big advantage of the Cité des métiers is that training opportunities at different institutions are much easier to find than before.’

The project is being organised jointly by:

  • Bruxelles Formation, the public body responsible for vocational training for French-speaking jobseekers and workers in Brussels;
  • Actiris, the public employment service (PES) in Brussels;
  • VDAB (Vlaamse Dienst voor Arbeidsbemiddeling en Beroepsopleiding Brussel), the public body responsible for vocational training for Flemish-speaking jobseekers and workers in Brussels.

These three institutions have pooled their resources to provide the people of Brussels with expert advice in the following five main areas:

  • education;
  • training;
  • employment;
  • entrepreneurship;
  • mobility.

Cité des métiers forms part of the Brussels Regional government’s 2025 Strategy and 2020 Training Plan which specifically recommends the creation of a shared space for providing more personalised advice and the establishment of a one-stop information shop. Other guidance and counselling centres are currently being developed in three cities in Wallonia: Charleroi, Liège and Namur.

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Cité des Métiers de Bruxelles