Reference year 2019
This scheme was introduced in 1984, written into a decree in 1990 and refined in 2008.
While combining work placements in companies with school-based learning has a long tradition, sub-schemes in which work experience is acquired through public training services are recent developments aimed at providing youth with more opportunities on the labour market.
The goal of a part-time vocational pathway was twofold at the time of conception: first, it offered students a track in which they could obtain a working-experience, allowing them to enter the labor market with more (relevant) skills. The second goal was aimed at students who were disengaged from fulltime education and were -often- at risk to become an early school leaver. Nowadays, part-time vocational education shares the same goals as dual learning.
The scheme is available for young people between the age of 15 and 25.
Approximately, only 25% of pupils is younger than 18 years old (Source: Syntra Flanders)
- 2017-2018: 8,980
- 2018-2019: 8,854
- 2019-2020: 8,773
Source: Education statistics of the Flemish Government[1
Programmes combining learning with working are at level 2, 3 and 4 of the Flemish Qualifications Structure (linked to the EQF)
ISCED level 2 and 3
The following educational qualifications can be obtained (each associated to different duration of the programme):
- Certificate at EQF-level 2
- Certificate at EQF-level 3
- Diploma of upper-secondary education (EQF 4)
Access to higher education is only possible if a student obtained the diploma of secondary education.
The duration is flexible and can span from a few months to several years, based on the progress of the apprentice.
The Flemish Partnership Dual learning (Vlaams Partnerschap Duaal Leren) is a council with representatives of employers and employees, educational institutions, other providers of dual learning (training centres for entrepreneurial training, ‘Syntra’), the Regional public employment agency (VDAB), Department of Work, Department of education, SYNTRA Vlaanderen. This council provides advice concerning apprenticeships and related topics to the Ministers of Work and Education and develops a common vision on “apprenticeships”, including the part-time vocational education scheme. The Flemish Partnership Dual Learning has several legal authorizations:
1 ° the accreditation or cancellation of the accreditation of an enterprise;
2 ° the exclusion of an enterprise;
3 ° the monitoring of the implementation of the agreement of an alternation training with regard to training at the workplace;
4 ° drawing up an annual monitoring report on all apprenticeship schemes in Flanders;
5 ° taking the necessary actions to inform the companies about apprenticeships in Flanders;
6 ° supporting and mobilizing companies with a view to strengthen, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the supply of workplaces;
7 ° providing advice on all matters concerning the workplace component of apprenticeships.
Every educational provider retains their autonomy in the organization of Part-time vocational training. The agency of Entrepreneurial Training - Syntra Vlaanderen is responsible for the coordination of the in-company training of apprenticeship schemes in Flanders. The agency has to ensure the supply of qualitative workplaces for pupils in apprenticeships, in collaboration with different stakeholders.
Professional sectoral organisations are involved in the development of ‘professional qualifications’, on which education based its training programmes.
For all three schemes The Flemish Partnerschip of Dual learning (Het Vlaams Partnerschap Duaal Leren) has a set of powers and responsibilities concerning the implementation of the apprenticeship scheme. It delegates a number of these authorities to sectoral partnerships (Sectorale Partnerschappen). The set of authorities delegated to the sectoral partnerships depends on the sectoral council and is stipulated in a contract between the sectoral partnership and the Flemish council of dual learning. In case the sector or enterprise is not part of one of the 16 sectoral partnerships, the Flemish partnership of dual learning will take up the responsibilities. The different roles/responsibilities are:
-inform sectors, companies (and schools)
-mobilize sectors, companies (and schools)
-accreditation of companies (including termination and exclusion)
-monitor in-company training (contracts, mentors, quality in general)
-give advise on matters concerning apprenticeships and dual learning and provide yearly monitoring report (Flemish Partnership only)
5Training at the workplace
In company training is one option to fulfil the work component requirement of the scheme (see other options further below). Next to workplace experience, there are some other alternatives that are also recognized as ‘workplace experience’ by the decree:
- Enroll in a pre-apprenticeship program;
- Volunteer work;
- Following of additional training and courses that are aimed at increasing the employability;
- Carrying out work in the framework of cultural, social or sports activities through an agency which is recognised by the government.
The standard form of alternation is 2 days in school and 3 days at the workplace.
The theoretical part, leading to a diploma, is identical to other VET-programmes (with in-company training).
There is a specific curriculum for the courses in part-time vocational education concerning the practical training. This curriculum is based on sectoral needs but is considered as outdated. Instead of renewing this curriculum, a shift towards the dual learning scheme will be made by 2026 (see Q5 in the country fiche). As a result the part-time vocational education scheme will be eliminated.
Employers should have an accreditation in order to provide in-company training in a dual learning system.
In order to obtain this accreditation, the company:
- Should appoint a supervisor/tutor on the workplace that is of impeccable behaviour, is at least 25 years of age and has at least 5 years of experience in the profession. (as an exception, the supervisor can be at least 23 years of age). This tutor should follow a specialised tutor training.
- Should comply to the standards of equipment and company organisation in order to provide a training according to the training programme.
- Should have a proficient financial basis in order to guarantee the continuity of the company
- Did not face any criminal convictions
6Contract and compensation
In the part-time vocational scheme in Flanders, we use 2 different types of contract, each with their own status.
Most of the apprentices use a ‘alternation training contract’, and have the status of ‘alternating pupil’ (apprentice). According to social security-regulations the apprentice is equated with regular employees. Therefore, apprentices also builds up social security rights. Due to the used contract, apprentices are covered on several fronts: paid leave, an illness- and invalidity-allowance, unemployment allowance, accidents at the workplace and professional illness. From the year in which they become 19 years old, they also build up rights linked to retirement and medical benefits.
In the context of the second possible contract, the ordinary part-time employment contract, apprentices have the same status as a regular employee and build up the same social security rights.
Yes, an Alternation training contract:
- Start and end date of the contract, subject of the contract
- Details of the employer and supervisor
- Details of the apprentice
- Details of the provider of the programme(school) and the apprentice counsellor (address, time, etc.)
- The allowance
- Schedule of in company learning and school based learning
- Rights and Duties of both parties
- The training programme
- Specific regulations of the company
In a Part-time labour contract, the aspects are mentioned that are asked by the Belgian federal law.
There are 2 types of contracts for in-company training, which are:
- an Alternation training contract, apprentices spend at least 20h a week on average during a year.
- a part-time labour contract, apprentices spend less than 20h a week on average during a year.
For certain courses, in-company training may be from 10h a week on average during a year.
The contracts are checked and registered with the Flemish Partnership for dual learning.
Depending on the contract that is used there is an allowance or a salary.
- Alternation training contract: allowance
- Ordinary part-time employment contract: salary
Only for the ordinary part-time employment contracts the wage is set based on sectoral collective agreements. For the alternation training contract it is set by law (Flanders)
7Financing and incentives
Costs for in-company training (for those acquiring work experience in companies, not as part of training projects provided by public training services) are covered by companies hosting apprentices. Tax reductions and subsidies are available for companies engaged in this scheme through sectoral funds as described in question 13 below. Companies can apply for subsidies and get tax reductions also for direct costs of the in-company training part of the scheme.
Specific social security contribution reductions apply to mentors/supervisors of apprentices (besides the companies that are located in the Brussels Capital Region).
Workplace learning bonus (Stagebonus) is available for employers that provide in-company training within the part-time vocational education scheme with an Alternation Training Contract or an ordinary part-time employment contract and are located in Flanders. Employers receive 500 EUR annually in the first and second year of the programme and 750 EUR in the third year.
The company’s profit for tax purposes may be reduced by 20% of the salary costs of the apprentice.
Other incentives may be available at the regional level and from sector funds
The alternation training contract is a fulltime contract and is applicable to the full training period, on the school based component and on the in-company component. The allowance paid in the alternation training contract accounts for both the share at school and at the company. There is no difference in calculation between school and company days; each day represents the same share of the allowance.
In case of an ordinary part-time employment contract, this covers only the time in the company