Reference year 2019

    1Scheme history

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

    This scheme was introduced in 1984, written into a decree in 1990 and refined in 2008.

    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

    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.   


    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.

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

    Approximately, only 25% of pupils is younger than 18 years old (Source: Syntra Flanders)

    Q5. How many learners are enrolled in this scheme?
    • 2017-2018: 8,980
    • 2018-2019: 8,854
    • 2019-2020: 8,773

    Source: Education statistics of the Flemish Government[1



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

    Programmes combining learning with working are at level 2,  3 and 4 of the Flemish Qualifications Structure (linked to the EQF)[1]


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

    ISCED level 2 and 3

    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.)

    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)


    Q11. Does the scheme provide direct access to higher education?

    Access to higher education is only possible if a student obtained the diploma of secondary education.

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

    The duration is flexible and can span from a few months to several years, based on the progress of the apprentice.


    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 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.

    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 ‘professional qualifications’, on which education based its training programmes.

    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 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

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

    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.


    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

    Regulations provided in the decree foresee less than 50%, of time in a company, but in reality, this time is more, i.e. 3 days a week at the company.

    Minimum 13 hours (almost 50% time) are to be spent in in-company training every week (article 6 of the 2008 decree on learning and working).

    15 hours per week (2 days) are to be spent in part time secondary VET schools (article 27 of the 2008 decree on learning and working)



    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 is 2 days in school and 3 days at the workplace.

    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
    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 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
    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 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.…


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

    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.


    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 2 types of contracts for in-company training[1], 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.

    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. 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  an allowance or a salary.

    • Alternation training contract: 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

    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

    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. 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.

    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) 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


    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 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

    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