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Dual training

Formation en alternance
Belgium-FR

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Reference Year 2019

Target 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
Other

15 to 25

Q7. What is the average age of learners in practice?

Between 15 and 18
Between 18 and 24
Above 24

This scheme attracts potential early leavers or learners who accumulated ‘school failure’, the majority of learners are aged 18+.

Overview of the scheme

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

Yes
No
 

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

Yes
No

OFFA: Office francophone de la Formation en Alternance*.

Composition of the board (18 people):

  • 5 members appointed by the French Community Government of which
    • 4 members appointed by the compulsory Education
    • 1 member appointed by “l’Enseignement de Promotion sociale
  • 7 members appointed by Walloon Region of which
    • 3 representatives of IFAPME
    • 2 representatives of trades unions
    • 2 representatives of employers
  • 6 members appointed by the college of the COCOF (French communautary commission of Brussel) of which
    • 2 representatives of SFPME
    • 2 representatives of trades unions
    • 2 representatives of employers

* Only in charge in French speaking Belgium

Q10. When was the scheme introduced?

Long history (before 2000)
Recently introduced (between 2000-2012)
New pathway (after 2012)

Vocational training: SMEs training has a long lasting tradition in apprenticeships and target the skills needs of the SMEs labour market. In 1907 the first apprenticeship secretariat in Wallonia was created. The IFAPME network can be considered as the heir of this first historic institution.

Education is provided by educational authorities through CEFA centers (Centres d'Education et de Formation en Alternance).  “Formation en alternance” was introduced in 1985.

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
Ex-novo
Other

Formation en alternance provided by IFAPME has its roots in traditional craftsmanship, i.e. training in SMEs.

Formation en alternance provided by CEFA was originally introduced as part of compulsory schooling in 1985 at the time of extending the compulsory schooling age from 15 to 18, with the implicit purpose of providing education to all young people who were at risk of early leaving.

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
State
Other

CEFAs are part of the formal educational system and are therefore publicly financed by the State. IFAPME/SFPME centers are financed by public educational authorities up to 75%.

Q13. Are there any financial incentives for companies that offer apprenticeship places?

Yes, subsidies
Yes, tax deductions
Yes, other incentives
No financial incentives

Employers taking on apprentices may benefit from the reduction in social security contributions.

Furthermore, since the last reform of the Belgian Institutions (sixth state reform) in 2012 both Walloon and Brussels Regions are competent to organize their own incentives programs.

In Wallonia, there are two specific incentives to the attention of companies:

  1. Incentive to companies that hire their first apprentice: 750€ (once)
  2. Incentive to companies that train apprentices: 750€ for each apprentice who stays in the company at least 9 months and reaches the B level competence while in the company, see Q24).

In Brussels, the employer receives a bonus for each tutor who accompanies 1 to 4 learners simultaneously (the tutor premium). The apprentice must remain at least 6 months in the company: 1750€ for each tutor (once a year).

Moreover, employers may also benefit from a tax benefit: 40% of the learning compensations paid to the youngster may be considered as work-related expenses. (ReferNet, Apprenticeship-type schemes, Belgium 2014). 

Q14. How many learners are enrolled in this scheme?

In the school year 2016/2017, there were 9376 students enrolled in a CEFA including 6857 students with a training contract for formation en alternance.

http://enseignement.be/index.php?page=28126&navi=4551

In the school year 2016/2017, 4100 persons were in a “formation en alternance” organized by IFAPME, and 554 by SFPME. (OFFA : “Paysage de l’alternance, année 2012-2013 à 2016-2017”, Brussels, Avril 2017, Lien : Paysage de l'alternance 2012/2013 à 2016/2017)

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.)
Others

Article 49 qualifications in the CEFA sub-system are formal VET qualifications that do not indicate the pathway.

Article 45 qualifications, in the vocational training sub-system, are formal VET qualification, which indicate the pathway.

IFAPME and SFPME issue both formal apprenticeship qualifications and formal VET qualifications which indicate the pathway.

See Q18 for details about the qualifications.

Q17. Is the qualification included in the National Qualification Framework (NQF)?

Yes
No
There is no NQF

No NQF, but according to draft NQF it would be qualifications at Level 3 and 4 of EQF.

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

Yes
No

Not always, only those awarded a Certificate of upper-secondary education (CESS, Certificat d'enseignement secondaire supérieur) may directly access higher education.

Programme

Duration

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

In IFAPME and SFPME, specific apprenticeship programs last from 18 months to 3 years.

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
Other

This applies in the case of formation en alternance provided by CEFA. Usually, the three years of upper secondary education.

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
 

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

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

Yes
No

A training plan must be attached to the “contrat d’alternance”. It is part of the contract. It is established by the training institution, in consultation with the company and the apprentice. It mentions the apprentice’s learning path and skills to be acquired, both through in-company training and through training organized with the training institution. The training plan is divided in 3 levels of competences (A, B, C).

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

At least 20 hours per week in the company out of 38 hours per week in total.

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
Other
Not specified

Typically, 1-2 days per week in school, 3-4 days in the enterprise. Specific adaptations of this arrangement depend on criteria such as the age of the apprentice.

Formal relationship with the employer

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

Yes
No

Contrat d’alternance.

Before 1 September 2015, IFAPME, SFPME and CEFA had their own type of contract. Following the implementation of a cooperation agreement (as of October 2008, not implemented until 2015) aiming to simplify, harmonize and promote the mobility of learners, the “contrat d’alternance” was established 1 September 2015. It introduces a common contract for all operators of “formation en alternance”, i.e. the so-called contract d’alternance.

This new contract replaces the socio-professional integration agreement (convention d’insertion socioprofessionnelle), the IFAPME apprenticeship contract, and the SFPME apprenticeship contract.

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

Apprenticeships are a specific type of contract.

In some sectors, it can also be an ordinary employment contract (for example, in care services).

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
Other

Educational authorities through CEFA centers: contracts are registered at the schools (CEFA centers)

IFAPME and SFPME: contracts are registered at the local administrations of IFAPME et SFPME.

For both tracks: as of 4 November 2019, contracts are registered on-line on OPLA* (the unique and interactive platform of Alternance) under the control of OFFA.

Q30. What is the status of the learner?

Apprentice is a specific status
Student
Employee
Other

A new definition of “apprentice” was introduced in July 2015 in order to harmonize the status of young people in “formation en alternance” with regards to social security. They are mostly treated as ordinary employees, but minors (until December 31 of the year in which they reach the age of 18), are only partially subject to social security to cover: ”annual vacation, work accident, occupational diseases”.

Compensation

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

For each skill level (included in the training plan) a minimum remuneration has to be paid to the young person by the company, as determined by decree, based on the “guaranteed average minimum monthly income” (€1,501.82), for the duration of the contract:

  • Level A: minimum 17% (€270.94)
  • Level B: minimum 24% (€382.51)
  • Level C: minimum 32% (€510.02)

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
Other

Apprentices wage is based on the “guaranteed average minimum monthly income determined by decree

Q33. Who covers the cost of the wage or allowance of the apprentice?

Employers
State
Other
 

Q34. Does the wage or allowance of the apprentice cover both the time spent at school and in the company?

Yes
No, it covers only the time spent in the company
 

Responsibility 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

A training plan must be attached to the “contrat d’alternance”. It is part of the contract. It is established by the training institution, in consultation with the company and the apprentice. It mentions the apprentice’s learning path and skills to be acquired, both through in-company training and through training organized with the training institution. The training plan is divided in 3 levels of competences (A, B, C).

The company authorizes a training contact person from the training institution to visit the place of performance of the "contrat d'alternance" in order to check the company meets the obligations to which it subscribed. Training contact people ensure that the training plan is implemented and verify the equipment available to the apprentice.

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
Other

Prior to the conclusion of a contract, the company must have obtained approval (accreditation) from the training institution to deliver “formation en alternance” (on proposal of sectorial coaches when they exist). The company introduces an application for approval to a training institution. Within three months of the application, the training institution (or the sectorial coaches when they exist) visits the company to see if the company meets the requirements for accreditation.

The company has to provide a tutor. The “tutor appointed by the company”, responding to the conditions specified in the contract. the company solemnly declares that the appointed tutor meets the conditions and justification of irreproachable conduct (i.e. the tutor has no criminal record, especially regarding sexual misconduct. The tutor must provide an official statement delivered by the authorities). The company hereby declare having checked the documents confirming the tutor's ability to be approved as such.

Q37. Are there any sanctions on companies that do not provide training to apprentices at the workplace?

Yes
No

Accreditation may be suspended or withdrawn by the training providers. OFFA organizes a commission of accreditation and mediation which deals with the appeals filed by the companies or by he providers.

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
Other
No role

Coordination of Formation en Alternance

OFFA (Office Francophone de la Formation en Alternance) is the sole coordinator of “formation en alternance” in French-speaking Belgium.

  • The social partners are part of the board of OFFA as well as part of the Accreditation and mediation commission and are part of most of the working groups set up by OFFA.
  • OFFA signs collaboration agreements with the sectors representatives (social partners) involved in alternance training and education

Designing qualifications et profiles

Vocational qualifications achievable in vocational education and vocational training for the French-speaking part of Belgium are developed by the Service francophone des métiers et des qualifications (SFMQ) (French-speaking service for trades and qualifications). SFMQ brings together the main VET stakeholders: the public employment services (PES), the social partners, all VET providers, the operators for socio-professional integration , the Skills Validation Consortium (Consortium de validation des compétences, CVDC) for Belgium-FR. SFMQ is in charge to create occupational profiles (basis for all vocational education and vocational training provision) that reflect the reality of occupations. Both type of VET providers en Alternance (SFPME/IFAPME and CEFA) implement some of the occupation profiles developed by SFMQ.

IFAPME implements some of the occupation profiles developed by SFMQ. The remaining profiles of qualifications and curricula are developed via specific apprenticeship programs with the support of the sectors.

SFPME: information not available.

CEFA’S: implement some of the occupation profiles developed by SFMQ. The remaining profiles of qualifications and curricula are developed within Education.

Social partners are part of the board of the local IFAPME training centers and part of the board of IFAPME. IFAPME signs collaboration agreements with the social partners at sectoral level involved in alternance training.

Employers representatives are part of the board of the local training center of SFPME (EFP). SFPME signs collaboration agreements with the social partners at sectoral level involved in alternance training.

CEFA signs collaboration agreements with the social partners at sectoral level involved in alternance training.

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
Other
No role

Social partners sitting in OFFA’s board are involved in the accreditation process of enterprises that are aiming to hire apprentices.

IFAPME/SFPME/CEFA’S: professionals or representatives of sectorial branches are part of the qualification jury in schools and training centers.

IFAPME/SFPME: training is delivered by active professionals

IFAPME: In the case of certain training courses (a few), the employers formally assess the trainees on the modules learnt in the company