Reference year 2019

    1Scheme history

    Q1. When was the scheme introduced?
    Long history (before 2000)
    Recently introduced (between 2000-2012)
    New pathway (after 2012)

    In 2015, a ‘Concept Note’ on dual learning was approved by the Flemish government, and from 2016 until 2019 pilot projects were put in place in order to refine the legal framework. Furthermore, the projects supported by the European social Fund developed instruments and collaborations in order to assist schools and sectoral organisations to start dual courses. From September 2019 onwards, dual learning is structurally embedded in the Flemish educational landscape by decree.

    Q2. 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

    Dual learning was developed on the basis of the evaluation of the existing system of ‘learning and working’. It started with a ‘concept note’ approved by the Flemish government, which developed into a decree over time.

    Dual learning is integrated in the educational landscape. In this scheme, any pupil considered ‘mature enough’ by the schoolteacher and/or student-counselor will be able to follow in-company training. The component of theoretical courses in the school/training center will be intertwined with the in-company training. Pupils can obtain an educational qualification, or relevant partial qualifications.

    Educational providers are still the final responsible party throughout the training.

    The goals of the scheme are:

    • Improvement of screening and matching of pupils
    • Harmonization of the possible contracts and clear status of the apprentice
    • Simplification of the incentives for employers
    • Strengthening the sectoral approach in the support of apprentices and apprenticeships (for instance in supporting apprentices’ placements but also strengthening the quality of in-company training).
    • Uniform regulations on quality assurance and accreditation of the in-company workplaces
    • Arrangement of the pupils accompaniment
    • Strengthening of the matching process and the scheme ‘apprenticeship – Leertijd’


    Q3. 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.

    The Flemish secondary education system has 3 stages, each one lasting 2 years. Normally, students can start dual learning in the 1st year of the 2nd stage, when they are 15 years old.


    Q4. What is the average age of learners in practice?
    Between 15 and 18
    Between 18 and 24
    Above 24

    This data can be verified on

    Q5. How many learners are enrolled in this scheme?

    1,567 in 2019-2020


    Q7. Are the qualifications included in the National Qualification Framework (NQF)?
    There is no NQF

    Dual learning schemes are situated at level 2, 3 and 4 of the NQF


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

    354, ISCED level 2, 3 and 4.

    Q10. 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.)

    Possible qualifications that can be obtained through dual learning:

    • Diploma of secondary education
    • A certificate ‘secondary-after-secondary’ (In case the dual learning is organised on the level of a ‘secondary- after-secondary’ education): This is an extra year in secondary education which leads to an extra qualification.
    • A certificate of the 2nd year of the 3rd stage of secondary education.
    • A proof of VET-qualification
    • A proof of partial qualification.
    • A certificate of the 2nd stage of secondary education
    Q11. Does the scheme provide direct access to higher education?

    The access to higher education for apprentices in dual learning is the same as for pupils in the school-based (non-dual) scheme.

    If dual learning at upper secondary level is followed in vocational education, access to higher education is only possible by following specific additional programmes, which have dual variants as well.

    If dual learning at upper secondary level is implemented in technical general education, access to higher education is immediately possible.

    Q12. What is the typical duration of the apprenticeship programme?

    Some dual courses last 1 school year, but others last 2 school years. It is possible to follow a dual learning scheme in the second stage of secondary education (third and fourth year; see Q6), and to add another ‘specialisation year’ or ‘secondary after secondary’ which lasts 1 school year. This is the standard duration, in practice it can be flexible.


    Q13. Is there any organization at the national level with roles in co-ordinating the scheme?

    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 dual learning and related topics to the Ministers of Work and Education and develops a common vision on apprenticeships and dual learning. 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 apprenticeship (including dual learning) with regard to training at the workplace;
    4 ° drawing up an annual monitoring report on dual learning in Flanders;
    5 ° taking the necessary actions to inform the companies about dual learning 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 dual learning.

    The organization of dual learning is a cooperation between several partners.

    Every educational provider retains their autonomy in the organization of dual learning. The agency of Entrepreneurial Training - Syntra Vlaanderen is responsible for the coordination of the in-company training of dual learning in Flanders. The agency has to ensure the supply of qualitative workplaces for pupils in dual learning, in collaboration with different stakeholders.

    AHOVOKS (The agency for Higher Education, Adult education and Qualifications) is responsible for the standard trajectories within dual learning (i.e. the curricula on which the pupils’ individual learning plans are based).   

    Q14. 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 ‘vocational qualifications’ and in the design of the related curricula for dual learning scheme.

    Q15. 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 “apprenticeship” schemes in Be-Fl, but for the dual learning scheme in particular, 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)

    - advise on matters concerning dual learning and provide yearly monitoring report (Flemish Partnership only)

    5Training at the workplace

    Q17. Is it compulsory to alternate training between two learning venues (school and company)?

    In dual learning, it is compulsory to alternate training between two learning venues (school and company).

    Q18. 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

    In order to be identified as dual learning, the in-company training must be at least 14 hours a week on average during a year. According to the contract that is used, which is specified during the development of the curriculum, the division between in-company learning and school-based learning varies:

    • When using an Alternation training contract, pupils spend in company at least 20h a week on average during a year.
    • When using a Alternation internship contract, pupils spend in company maximum 20h a week on average during a year.


    • In certain sectors (mostly in health care), where part-time ordinary employment contracts are used as the norm, the minimum share of in-company training is at least 20 hours a week..
    Q19. 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
    Q20. 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

    The standard form of alternation includes both venues every week. Certain courses opt for in-company training in ‘blocks’ during one or several weeks.

    This arrangement is specified in the contract between pupil, school and employer.


    Q22. Is the company hosting apprentices required by regulation to follow a training plan at the workplace?
    Yes, the training plan is based on the national/sectoral requirements for the in-company training
    Yes, the training plan is agreed at the level of school and company
    No, is not required formally

    The training plan is based on the regional (Flanders) developed curriculum but it can be personalised. The contract also includes an individual training plan, that is agreed on the level of school, company and pupil.

    Q23. 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 a dual learning 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.
    Q25. Are there any sanctions on companies that do not provide training to apprentices at the workplace?

    6Contract and compensation

    Q26. What is the status of the learner?
    Only student
    Only employee
    Apprentice is a specific status (student and employee combined)

    In the dual learning scheme in Flanders, we use three different types of contract, each with its own status.

    Most of the pupils use an alternation training contract, and have the status of ‘alternating pupil’, i.e. apprentice. However, according to social security-regulations, the pupil is considered a regular employee. Therefore, the pupil also is entitled to social security rights. Under this contract, pupils are covered on several fronts: paid leave, 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 benefit from rights linked to retirement and health insurance.

    Less pupils use the alternation internship contract. Since the hours on the workplace are less, the pupil does not receive an allowance. This implies that the pupils don’t build up social security rights, although it is imperative that a limited industrial accident insurance is provided.

    In the context of the third possible contract, the ordinary part-time employment contract, pupils have the same status as a regular employee and build up the same social security rights. Employment contracts between employers and apprentices are regulated in the 1983 law on apprenticeships for professions exercised by employees receiving a salary.[1]



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

    All contracts are tripartite, signed by the apprentice, the employer and the school (generally, the director);

    All contracts also include an individual training plan, that is agreed on the level of school, company and pupil.

    Q28. What is the nature of the written arrangement?
    Apprenticeships are an ordinary employment contract
    Apprenticeships are a specific type of contract
    Another type of formal agreement, not a contract

    There are 3 types of contracts for in-company training, which are:

    • an Alternation training contract, which is a specific type of contract
    • an Alternation internship contract, , which is a specific type of contract
    • in certain sectors, a part-time ordinary employment contract is still used for dual learning.

    The key requirements, as per regulation foresee that any dual learning contract mentions:

    • Start and end date of the contract, subject of the contract
    • Details of the employer and in-company supervisor
    • Details of the apprentice
    • Details of the provider of dual learning (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 an Alternation internship contract the same aspects are mentioned, besides the allowances, which is not applicable in an alternation internship contract.

    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 by the Flemish Partnership for dual learning (see Q9).

    Q30. 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

    Depending on the contract that is used there is no allowance, an allowance or a salary.

    • Alternation training contract: allowance
    • Alternation internship contract: no allowance,
    • Ordinary part-time employment contract: salary
    Q31. 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 (Alternation training contract):

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

    In case the apprentice receives a salary (par-time employment contract), this is set by collective agreements.

    7Financing and incentives

    Q32. Who covers the cost of the wage or allowance of the apprentice?
    Q33. 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 and government provisions as described in question 13 below.

    Q34. 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 that are located in the Brussels Capital Region).

    Workplace learning bonus (Stagebonus) for employers which are located in Flanders and provide in-company training in the three apprenticeship schemes with an Alternation Training Contract, an Alternation internship contract or an ordinary partime employment contract (All three contact types can be used for an apprenticeship).

    Employers receive 500 EUR annually in the first and second year of the dual learning and 750 EUR in the third year.

    The calculation of 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 (e.g. Flanders) and from sector funds


    Q35. 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 and the alternation internship contract are fulltime contracts and are applicable to the full training period, covering both the school-based component and on the in-company component. 

    In case of an ordinary part-time employment contract, this covers only the time in the company.

    Q36. Are there any incentives for learners?
    Yes, grants paid to learners to top up their remuneration
    Yes, grants paid to learners related to other costs (travel, food etc.)
    Yes, recognition of prior learning / fast-track opportunities
    Yes, other types of incentives