Reference year 2019

    Understanding of apprenticeships in the national context

    Q2. Is there an official definition of ‘apprenticeship’ or ‘apprentice’ in your country?

    The requirements which the dual pathway (beroepsbegeleidende leerweg or BBL) has to fulfil are clearly defined in the Education and Vocational Education Law. According to the law, Article 7.2.7, apprenticeships are educational programmes leading to a vocational qualification.

    The programmes must comprise 850 hours of education per year, of which at least 200 hours must be school-based instruction (begeleide onderwijsuren) and of which at least 610 hours must be work placement (beroepspraktijkvorming, bpv).

    In practice, this means that apprentices usually spend 1 day per week in the education institution and 4 days per week in the company.[1

    [1] ROA (2015), Schoolverlaters tussen onderwijs en arbeidsmarkt 2014, p.4.

    Q3. At which level do apprenticeship schemes exist in your country?
    At upper secondary level
    At post-secondary (not tertiary)
    At tertiary level
    At sectoral level

    Four types of programmes with durations from 1 to 4 years exist at upper-secondary level.[1]

    • Entry level programmes (1-1.5 years, ISCED 254, EQF1).
    • Basic vocational programmes (2 years, ISCED 353, EQF2).
    • Professional education programmes (3 years, ISCED 353, EQF3).
    • Middle-management VET programmes (3-4 years, ISCED 354, EQF4).

    After finishing a middle management VET programme there’s a possibility to enroll in a specializing programme for which a diploma of a professional education programme of the same vocation is required (1-2 years, ISCED 453, EQF4).[2

    All four programmes can be followed in different pathways; as an apprenticeship (BBL) or in a mainly school-based pathway with periods of training in companies (so called beropesopleidende leerweg or BOL). There’s also the possibility to follow a programme in a third pathway, non funded by the government. In the third pathway, work placement (beroepspraktijkvorming, bpv) is mandatory, but without a minimum defined hours required.

    After graduation students will enter Associate Degree (EQF 5) or Higher Education (EQF 6). To follow a second course on level 4 is an exception and not relevant.

    [1] Cedefop (2016), Spotlight on VET: The Netherlands.

    Q4. How well-established are apprenticeship schemes in your country?
    A long history (before 2000)
    A recent history (in 2000s)
    Pilot scheme

    The current VET system is based on the 1995 Law on Education and Vocational Education and Training. VET education, including apprenticeships, existed long before that but in a different, more granular structure.[1

    [1] Van der Veen, R., Amsing, M.J., and Van Dellen, T. (2012), Lifelong Learning in Nederland: beroepsonderwijs en hoger onderwijs voor volwassenen. In P. Schramade (Ed.), Handboek Effectief Opleiden. (pp. 201 - 223), Den Haag: Elsevier Bedrijfsinformatie b.v. Available at:

    Q5. Relevant information that is essential to understanding the specificity of apprenticeships in the country and which does not fit under the scheme specific sections below.

    In the Netherlands work based learning (praktijkleren) is in the heart of VET. Work based learning in VET is also of importance for different programmes for learning on the job and life long learning, for both youngsters and adults, working, unemployed and/or disabled.  Apprenticeship is mostly a combination of an employment contract and a separate learning agreement. Those are normally not connected as 1 contract.