In 2015, the Flemish government made a decision to develop new procedures for finding an apprenticeship place, with the purpose of elaborating a high-quality, fully-fledged alternative to existing 'classic' education systems. This reform had an impact on all stakeholders and related fields; significant developments are already visible.
In dual learning, students acquire most of their training (60% or more) in the workplace and the rest at a centre for part-time education, such as the SYNTRA training centre. To ensure its success, each dual learner must be able to find a high-quality apprenticeship place. The employer is an indispensable link: offering a workplace in a company, business or organisation helps young people to complete their training in secondary education and prepares them for the labour market. To strengthen the quality and sustainability of workplaces, the reform turned SYNTRA Flanders, the Flemish Agency for Entrepreneurial Training, into the neutral director of the work placement component.
As manager of the work placement component of the dual learning trajectories, it is now SYNTRA Flanders' duty to help increase the number of high-quality workplaces, together with the various interested parties and partners which the organisation supports. As director, the agency has the primary task of creating an appealing framework, so that more companies and sectors commit to this new approach. Although it has taken the role of ‘overall director’, the organisation has not taken over local or regional stakeholders; however, it is SYNTRA Flanders' role to bring good practices to the surface in such a way that they can expand. The agency also acts as a go-between to policy-makers, to ensure that it is possible to learn and improve continuously within the new system, making it more sustainable.
To successfully fulfil these assignments, the agency has devoted attention to the five following areas:
- reinforcing the number of workplaces;
- guaranteeing the quality of the workplaces by, for example, defining and elaborating upon appropriate criteria;
- entering into partnerships with companies, sectors, inter-professional and social partners;
- acting as radar for the new dual learning framework, while keeping up to date with the framework of new developments;
- SYNTRA Flanders is keen to help shape policy.
To reinforce the supply of workplaces quantitatively and qualitatively, an online tool has been developed with which companies can submit a request for accreditation for offering apprenticeship places. Since the launch of the tool in the summer of 2016, the tally is now at almost 9 000 approved accreditations. The graph illustrates this rising line.