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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.5 Traineeships and apprenticeships

Last update: 30 November 2021
On this page
  1. Official guidelines on traineeships and apprenticeships
  2. Promoting traineeships and apprenticeships
  3. Recognition of learning outcomes
  4. Funding
  5. Quality assurance

Official guidelines on traineeships and apprenticeships

Since 1 January 2017 new regulations apply that are intended to simplify the system for young workers and employers.

To be able to perform a student job, young people must be 15 years of age and have finished the second secondary school year or else be 16 years of age.

The number of hours which young people may work on a student contract is 475 hours per calendar year. The hours may be used all year round in the school-free periods as desired. Exceeding 475 hours per calendar year is allowed, however, anyone exceeding 475 hours loses the right to reduced social security contributions as of the 476th hour.

The young workers benefit for the whole year from one and the same reduced scale of social security contributions (8.13% = 2.71% paid by the student and 5.42% by the employer).

A student contract must not exceed 12 months. It is immaterial whether the young person works for one or several employers in the course of the year. The contract guarantees among other things that young people are insured and have the right to payment of wages.

Up to 18 years of age children and young people have the right to child benefit without restriction. For young people over 18, the number of hours they can work with a student contract without losing their child benefit depends on the domicile. In the German-speaking Community, young people over 18 with a student contract have unrestricted right to child benefit.

If the wage of a young worker exceeds a certain limit, young people are no longer dependent on their parents for tax purposes and they must pay more tax.


The website “Student@work” helps young people calculate how many hours they may still work. With the aid of their electronic ID they can register on the website and access their data. In addition, the website offers the opportunity to print out an official certificate showing the current status of days worked and days still available. The website also helps in the job search and offers all information to do with the subject to read.

Promoting traineeships and apprenticeships

Job Center of the German-speaking Community (Arbeitsamt der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft)

The “individual on-the-job training” is aimed at job-seekers and is completely tailored to particular work or a particular job. If an employer does not find a suitable worker for a particular position and would like to train someone, he can apply to the job center for an “individual on-the-job training” plan. Conversely a job-seeker can also apply for an "individuel on-the-job training". By the way, in the advice and placement interviews our staff draw attention to this option.

These measures are aimed at job-seekers with little experience of work and few qualifications. The placements offer them the opportunity to get to know the everyday world of work, to gather work experiences and to find out for what type of activity they are most suitable. Those interested should if possible find themselves a work experience placement. However, the job center can also suggest a business. The work experience students enter into a training contract.

1. Internships for school leavers (Einstiegspraktikum)

The internship offers school leavers the chance to gather professional experience and thus to improve their opportunities on the labour market. The internship offers young people the opportunity to get to know a profession or a company better over a longer period to thus facilitate entry into the world of work.

The internship may be completed in a company, a NPO or a public entity and lasts a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 6 months. The young person is employed full time in the business and also receives financial remuneration for this. Together with work in the company, the internship may also include courses, training events or projects recognised by the job centre.

During the internship young people receive various financial payments (monthly bonus of  €200 and internship support by the National Employment Service (Landesamt für Arbeitsbeschaffung - LfA)


2. Work experience placement (Arbeitsplatzerprobungspraktikum)

The aim of the measure is to give job-seekers a glimpse into everyday professional and business life and to allow them to gain professional experience. Those interested should if possible find themselves a work experience placement. However, the job centre can also suggest a position. The work experience students enter into a training contract (not an employment contract).


Department for Self-determined Living (Dienststelle für Selbstbestimmtes Leben, DSL)

The Department for Self-determined Living promotes the training and employment of people with disabilities in private businesses, in public bodies and in sheltered workshops and daycare.

  • Training placement (Ausbildungspraktikum)

The training placement is for the purpose of socio-professional integration of people with disabilities who are paid a replacement income, are at least 21 years of age and for whom there is (still) no prospect of a contract of employment. This takes place as needed with the support of professionally trained persons, the supporters of the training and long-term placements. The employer does not bear any wage costs but only the reimbursement of the expense of the placement student as part of his placement. The occupational accident and public liability insurance for the placement student is covered by the DPB. This measure is intended for a maximum period of 12 months but can be extended as long as necessary.

  • In-company orientation (Orientierungspraktikum)

“In-company orientation" (OIB) gives the placement student the opportunity to gain insight into his vocational abilities and interests. This measure enables the employer to assess the placement student’s existing abilities and knowledge and those that may be developed.

The orientation placement can be a component of vocational guidance and is aimed at school leavers or young people without other professional experience and to persons who are seeking professional retraining.

Recognition of learning outcomes

REK II future project “Recognising skills”

Children and young people do not only learn at school but also in the professional life, on a further training course, in voluntary organisation work or when working on hobbies. With each challenge in everyday life their specialist, social and personal skills are continuously enhanced. They also use much of what they assimilate in their professional career. The knowledge that they acquire outside the classical educational institutions is however neither recorded nor certified. It is not visible although in many cases it is of great significance for the ability to act at work.

However, we shall only be able to deal with the demographically caused skills shortage in the EU if we exploit all work-relevant skills of the working population by taking into account all forms of learning and enable the framework conditions for lifelong learning. This applies to career changers, returners, older workers as well as for the low-qualified and migrants.

In its recommendation of 20 December 2012, the Council of the European Union called upon the member states to create by 2018 validation systems for skills acquired formally and informally. Validation systems should enable vocational skills acquired outside the formal education system to be made visible.

A first survey of companies and guilds in the German-speaking Community showed that the acceptance of the validation process for skills acquired non-formally and informally is still very low. So, because of the small size of the German-speaking Community, it is important to also develop a concept that in the first instance benefits priority groups of people and professional fields.

The internal considerations on a validation system in the German-speaking Community are still in the starting phase. Conceptual steps are to be covered jointly with the local actors. The concept is now being developed as part of a  Regional Development Concept (Regionales Entwicklungskonzept, REK) project in collaboration with the most important actors of the DG (representatives of the education area of school, vocational training, university training and adult education, representatives of various guilds, the job centre, union delegates, the Department for Self-determined Living, staff of the National Agency for Erasmus+ and the EPALE platform as well as the Council for Adult Education).

Against this background the announced launch event for the REK II future project “Recognising skills” took place on 21 October 2016.

The aim of the event was to inform all actors in the German-speaking Community concerned on already existing validation approaches in the German-speaking Community, to present various validation systems in Belgium and abroad and to stimulate discussion between relevant actors in the German-speaking Community.


In 2020, 27,090,000 euros have been earmarked in the budget of the German-speaking Community for the area of employment.

For exercising its tasks the job centre has incurred expenditure of 7,525,333 euros in 2020.

By 2019 a sum of around 27.7 million euros has been agreed to implement and coordinate the 24 future and 3 horizontal projects of REK II. This money will be invested in the future of the German-speaking Community. The Regional Development Concept “Ostbelgien leben 2025” (“East Belgium Life 2025) contains long-term visions that are intended to shape life in the German-speaking Community sustainably, innovatively and inclusively for the population.

For costs not covered there are options to obtain third-party funds. So in many projects for example attempts will be made to obtain European funding or to participate in programmes of the Walloon region. Finding sources of finance is an integral part of the project work in the REK.

The costs arising from the overall management of the REK, the global coordination and communication of the concept as well as associated scopes of functions amount to just under EUR 380,000. Apart from in the period between 2010 and 2014 the European Social Fund (ESF) does not share in co-financing these costs.

A total budget of EUR 274,070 is planned from the German-speaking Community for the project implementation of the REK II future project “Recognising Skills” In addition ESF funding is to be requested. The costs covered are still to be defined as they are dependent on the results of the concept development.

Quality assurance

As already in the first implementation phase of the REK (REK I) there will be regular progress reports. These enable those responsible for the project to update and adjust the measures. New objectives may result from the experiences in the project implementation. As also in REK I (2009-2014) new work stages may therefore be added or work stages that are no longer regarded as reasonable may be discontinued. New statistical bases are to be developed for the German-speaking Community that are intended to help further develop the impact indicators and measured variables and thus to make the objectives of the project more measurable. Also new best practices are to be sought as it is helpful and important to learn from other good examples. Finally the funding necessary for the implementation of the projects are to be made transparent as in the previous years.

During the first implementation phase the REK coordination presented the “East Belgium Life 2025” strategy to many organisations, service providers and advisory bodies. Interested parties may also register in future for such a presentation.

Over and above that, any interested citizen will have the opportunity to become involved in events to do with the REK. The intensive citizens’ dialogue from the first implementation phase is also to be maintained in REK II.