Reference year 2019

1Target group

Q6. Does the legal basis define the minimum and maximum age limits for enrolment of the target group of this scheme?
Minimum and maximum age limits defined
Minimum age limits defined only

The scheme is available for young people between the age of 15 and 25. Exceptionally, pupils can start at the age of 14.

Q7. What is the average age of learners in practice?
Between 15 and 18
Between 18 and 24
Above 24
Age %
14* 0.06
15 5.66
16 14.29
17 21.40
18 21.08
19 15.17
20 10.01
21 7.68
22 2.96
23 1.01
24 0.69

Data: Syntrum

2Overview of the scheme

Q8. Is the scheme included in the ISCED 2011 mapping?

354, ISCED level 3

Q9. Is there any organization at the national level with roles in co-ordinating the scheme?

SYNTRA Vlaanderen (Government Agency) is responsible for the funding of ‘apprenticeship Leertijd’ and stimulating innovative approaches in ‘Leertijd’ and fostering a broad network of qualitative accredited employers as workplace for apprentices.

Syntrum assembles the training centers and coordinates their organisational policies and implementation. The training centres/schools are funded by the government, but not run by the government. They are NGOs.

Q10. When was the scheme introduced?
Long history (before 2000)
Recently introduced (between 2000-2012)
New pathway (after 2012)

Apprenticeships ‘Leertijd’ have a longer history. Work-based learning has been around for centuries in Flanders. During the middle ages professions were taught by ‘guilds’. Youngsters could learn a profession under the supervision of a ‘master’. After ‘a masterproof’ they themselves could become ‘gezel’ or master. From 1906 these arrangements were written in regulations and law. its current form it has its origins in the early 60s.

Q11. How did the apprenticeship scheme originate?
Traditional craftsmanship (master-apprentice relation) to prepare apprentices for the occupation
School-based VET track by including more work-based learning to supply skilled workforce to match labour market needs

Apprenticeship ‘Leertijd’ originated from the demand for skilled workers for small and medium enterprises. In this scheme the SME trained the pupil, together with the training center.

Q12. What are the sources of financing of the direct costs for the in-company training part of the apprenticeship scheme?
Single employers hosting apprentices
Sectoral funds

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 but tax reductions and subsidies are available through sectoral funds as described in question 14 below.

Q13. Are there any financial incentives for companies that offer apprenticeship places?
Yes, subsidies
Yes, tax deductions
Yes, other incentives
No financial incentives

Specific social security contribution reductions apply to mentors/supervisors of apprentices (besides the companies which are located in the Brussels Capital Region).

Workplace learning bonus (Stagebonus) is available for employers offering in-company training within this 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 apprenticeship 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

Q14. How many learners are enrolled in this scheme?

1,978 apprentices in Apprenticeship ‘Leertijd’ in Flanders (2017-2018)


2019-2020: 1,058 apprentices (source: Syntra Flanders)

Q16. Which is the type of qualification obtained through the apprenticeship scheme?
Formal VET qualification (which does not indicate the pathway)
Formal VET qualification (which indicates the pathway)
Formal apprenticeship qualification (journeyman, etc.)

Depending on the duration the apprentice remains in the apprenticeship, the following educational qualifications can be obtained:[1]

  • Certificate (successfully completed a programme)
  • Certificate of the 2nd stage of secondary education (at least 2 years in upper secondary education and successfully completed programme)
  • Certificate of the 2nd year of the 3rd stage of secondary education (at least 4 years in upper secondary education and successfully completed programme)

Diploma of secondary education (at least 5 years in upper secondary education, obtained Certificate of the 2nd year of the 3rd stage of secondary education and successfully completed programme)


Q17. Is the qualification included in the National Qualification Framework (NQF)?
There is no NQF

Programmes combining learning with working are at level 2 and 3 of the NQF[1]



Q19. Does the scheme provide direct access to higher education?

If the apprentice obtains a VET-qualification and a diploma for secondary education, access to higher education is possible.



Q21. If the scheme is implemented via specific apprenticeship programme, what is its duration?

The training programme takes from 1 up to 3 years. Specialisation is possible, and can add an extra year to a training programme.

Q22. If the scheme is not implemented via specific apprenticeship programme, how is duration of apprenticeships defined in the regulation?
It Is defined as minimum and maximum share of a VET programme
Is defined as minimum share of a VET programme
Is defined as maximum share of a VET programme
Is not defined by regulation
Q23. Is there a distinction between the training time and working time for the period spent at workplace, as per regulation?
Yes, the legal framework makes this distinction
No, the legal framework makes no distinction

5Alternation of work-based (in-company) training and school-based training

Q24. Is it compulsory to alternate training between two learning venues (school and company)?

Article 31 of the Decree on learning and working, covering also this apprenticeship scheme, stipulates: Workplace learning (Praktijkopleiding) and complementary theoretical education are inextricably linked.

Q25. Is the in-company training defined as minimum share of the apprenticeship scheme duration?
Yes, equivalent or more than 50% of scheme duration
Yes, between 20% and 50% of the scheme duration
Yes, less than 20% of the scheme duration
No, no minimum share is compulsory

Article 31 of the Decree on learning and working, covering also this apprenticeship scheme, stipulates that the theoretical education (school based learning) is minimally 8 hours per week (4 hours general education and 4 hours vocation specific). 

When using an Alternation training contract, apprentices spend at least 20h a week on average during a year.


  • In certain sectors, an ordinary part-time employment contract is still used for this scheme.
  • For certain courses, in-company training may be from 10h a week on average during a year.
Q26. What is the form of alternation of training between workplace (company) and school?
Every week includes both venues
One or more weeks (less than 1 month) spent at school followed by one or more weeks at workplace
One or more months (less than 1 year) spent at school followed by one or more months at workplace
A longer period (1-2 years) spent at school followed by a longer period spent training at workplace
Various – depends on agreements between the school and the company
Not specified

Under the “leertijd” scheme, 1 day per week is spent in school and 4 days in the company.

6Formal relationship with the employer

Q27. Is any contractual arrangement between the learner and company, required as per regulation?

From 2016 on an Alternation training contract is used for this scheme:

  • 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 our federal law.


Q28. What is the nature of the contractual arrangement?
Apprenticeships are a specific type of contract
Apprenticeships are an ordinary employment contract
A formal agreement

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.
  • an ordinary part-time employment contract, apprentices spend less than 20h a week on average during a year.
Q29. Where is the contract or the formal agreement registered?
At the school
At the Ministry of employment
At the chambers
At the Ministry of education

The contracts are checked and registered with the Flemish Partnership for dual learning.


Q30. What is the status of the learner?
Apprentice is a specific status

In the Apprenticeship (Leertijd) scheme in Flanders, 2 different types of contracts are used, each with their own status.

Most of the apprentices use a ‘alternation training contract’, and have the status of ‘alternating pupil’ (apprentices). According to social security-regulations the apprentice is equated with regular employees. Therefore, apprentices also build 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.…



Q31. Do apprentices receive a wage or allowance?
Yes, all apprentices receive a wage (taxable income)
Yes, all apprentices receive an allowance (not a form of taxable income)
Apprentices receive a reimbursement of expenses
No form of compensation is foreseen by law
  • Apprentices with an alternation training contract receive an allowance
  • Apprentices with an ordinary part-time employment contract receive a salary
Q32. How is the apprentice wage (taxable income) set?
By law (applying for all)
By cross-sectoral collective agreements at national or local level
By sectoral collective agreements at national or local level
By firm-level collective agreements or individual agreements between apprentice and company

In case the apprentice receives an allowance:

  • 29% of the GGMMI (guaranteed average minimum monthly income) in the first year of the programme
  • 32% of the GGMMI: after succeeding in a first year of the programme, of after already succeeding in he 2nd year of the 2nd stage of secondary education).
  • 34;5% of the GGMMI: After succeeding in a second year of the programme (or after already succeeding in the 1st year of the 3rd stage)

In case the pupil receives a salary it is set by collective agreements.

Q33. Who covers the cost of the wage or allowance of the apprentice?
Q34. Does the wage or allowance of the apprentice cover both the time spent at school and in the company?
No, it covers only the time spent in the company

The alternation training contract is a fulltime contract and is applicable to the full training period. The allowance paid 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.

8Responsibility of employers

Q35. Is the company hosting apprentices required by regulation to follow a training plan at the workplace?
Yes, the training plan is agreed at the level of school and company
Yes, the training plan is based on the national/sectoral requirements for the in-company training
No, is not required formally

The contract consists of a training programme, that is agreed upon on the level of the training center, the employer and the apprentice. The overall training programme is defined by law.

Q36. What are the requirements on companies to provide placements, as per regulation?
Have to provide a suitable learning environment
Have to provide a mentor / tutor / trainer

Employers should have an accreditation in order to provide in-company training in the apprenticeship ’leertijd’ scheme.

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)
  • 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.
Q37. Are there any sanctions on companies that do not provide training to apprentices at the workplace?
Q38. What is the role of chambers, employers’ and employees’ representatives, sectoral councils (if existent), in shaping apprenticeship content, as per regulation?
Role in designing qualification
Role in designing curricula
No role

Professional sectoral organisations are involved in the development of ‘professional qualifications’, on which education based its training programmes.

Q39. What is the role of chambers, employers’ and employees’ representatives in implementing the apprenticeship scheme, as per regulation?
Role in final assessment of apprentices
Role in accreditation of companies
Role in monitoring of the in-company training
No role

For all three schemes The Flemish Partnership 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