3.5 Traineeships and apprenticeships
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The Ministry of Education, Children and Youth is responsible for apprenticeships policy and develops apprenticeships standards with the professional chambers. Chambers are also involved in legislative procedures and are officially consulted on matters relating to the educational system and apprenticeship. The link with the world of work is concretely made via the elaboration of the curricula, which are based on labour market demands.
The apprenticeship system in Luxembourg is organised similarly to the German dual system. General education, technical and vocational theoretical education are provided in schools while, for most occupations, practical training takes place on the job.
The regulatory framework of apprenticeships is set by the 2008 law (loi du 19 décembre 2008) and its grand-ducal regulations. This law fundamentally reformed vocational training in Luxembourg. It aims at strengthening the links between VET and the labour market and sets the focus on competence-based and modular qualifications. According to the report of INFPC (2019), the key principles of the reform are the following:
(a) To promote VET and improving VET quality
(b) To ease access to lifelong learning
(c) To strengthen partnerships with the business world
(d) To implement teaching and evaluation methods based on competences
(e) To replace teaching by subject with teaching by units and modules with predefined learning outcomes (competences and knowledge)
(f) To introduce assessment and certification in apprenticeships based on learning
(g) To establish training of VET teachers
(h) To introduce ‘adult teachers’ and providing special training for them
(i) To improve collaboration between the state and the social partners.
The law foresees that before beginning an apprenticeship, participants have to pass a medical exam and sign a formal contract which stipulates a probationary period of 3 months (the contract is a fixed-term contract which is normally three years). Apprentices are eligible for apprenticeship allowances, which vary depending on the chosen trade or profession, and they receive a minimum of 26 days of legal holiday. The employer has to register the apprentice with all branches of the social security system at the beginning of the contract. Social security for minor apprentices is covered by the social security contributions of their parents or legal guardians.
The apprenticeship receives financial aid. It provides reimbursement of up to 40% as well as the employer's share of social security costs for the apprentice (regulated by the 2016 grand-ducal regulation. If the learning year is successful, a learning bonus is offered in addition to the training wage. Apprentices receive an allowance which varies between € 800 and € 1 500 depending on the trade/profession learned (Chamber of Employees, 2023). Upon successful completion of an academic year, apprentices receive a bonus of € 130 or € 150 per month, depending on the branch of training (INFPC, 2019).
There are two forms of apprenticeships: (1) initial vocational training offered by secondary schools and (2) adult apprenticeships.
Secondary schools offer three different systems of initial vocational training (INFPC, 2019):
- The concomitant track, where practical knowledge is acquired through the combination of time spent working in an enterprise and in compulsory school attendance
- A mixed track in which theoretical and practical training are offered at an educational institution for the first year of training, in some cases also for the second year (full-time academic year). After the successful completion of the training in the educational institution, the practical training is continued in an enterprise
- A full-time track that offers the entire vocational training at an educational institution.
Persons over 15 years of age who have been out of school for more than one year can apply for an adult apprenticeship, which is available for both adults under work contract and jobseekers registered at the National Employment Agency. The theoretical part of the training takes place at the National Centre of Continuing Vocational Training (CNFPC; Centre National de Formation Professionelle Continue). The practical part is acquired through an apprenticeship with an enterprise that is authorised to train apprentices (Biré & Waltzer, 2013).
Professional chambers as well as public and private training institutions offer further training opportunities, whereby some of the offered courses lead to official certificates.
The 2020 law on traineeships for pupils and students defines traineeships' operation modes. All young people are eligible for traineeships and all traineeships are regulated by this law. The main elements of the law are the following:
- Traineeships must be regulated by a contract between intern and employer or educational institution; the required contract content is defined by the law (e.g. tasks, remuneration, duration)
- For contracts with a duration of less than four weeks, remuneration of the intern is not compulsory. If the duration is longer, remuneration is compulsory; the minimum salary is defined by the law
- The maximum duration of a traineeship is 6 months
- Traineeships must have an informative, orientational and educational character and must not be established to replace permanent workforce.
Special traineeships for jobseekers are offered by the National Employment Agency and the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth. There are three types of training programmes (INFPC, 2019):
- Training for jobseekers who experience difficulties entering the labour market. Orientation and vocational initiation courses are conducted at the National Centre of Continuing Vocational Training. Trainees attending these occupational guidance and integration courses receive socio-educational support and participate in work placement programmes in enterprises. These schemes generally last one year
- Schemes organised directly for a sector or an enterprise are organised at the request of employers. Training content is decided jointly with the requester who agrees—on the basis of an agreement between the enterprise, the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth and the Ministry of Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy (MTEESS) to recruit those people who successfully complete the scheme. The length of these schemes generally varies from six weeks to three months, plus periods of work placement. The training course always alternates between periods of formal instruction and practical experience
- 'Jobelo' is a programme that has been offered by the National Employment Agency since 2013. The aim of this programme is to facilitate access to apprenticeship or employment for young jobseekers without any qualifications. When beginning Jobelo, young people participate in a 2-month training programme at the Socio-professional guidance centre (COSP; Centre d'orientation socio-professionnelle).
The National School for Adults (ENAD; École Nationale pour Adultes) addresses specific disadvantaged target groups and provides assistance to dropouts to help them regain motivation and offer specific trainings with a view to (re)integrating them into traditional secondary school education, an apprenticeship or the job market (see: Formal education: main policy measures on ELET).
Traineeships for jobseekers are an integral part of the Youth guarantee implementation plan.
The career guidance and counselling services are in charge of promoting apprenticeships (see 3.4 Career guidance and counselling).
The Ministry of Education, Children and Youth publishes and distributes leaflets about apprenticeships that are distributed to secondary school pupils or parents.
The Chamber of Employees (Chambre des salariés) also raises awareness on apprenticeships through other means. It runs the campaign "Apprenticeship 2022 / Start at full speed". The campaign aims at promoting and improving the attractiveness of apprenticeships. The campaigns' webpage presents comprehensive information on opportunities for apprenticeships in different fields.
The Chamber of Commerce (Chambre de Commerce) also provides information on apprenticeships to facilitate vocational training and to increase young people's awareness of vocational training opportunities. The website www.winwin.lu provides information for both interested employers and young people.
With the Handsup website, the Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts (Chambre des Métiers) has been maintaining a website since 2015 that brings together all the offers for discovering, developing, mastering and perfecting the professional skills for a craft profession. Professionals, students and other people can find information about the crafts. The website tries to show the attractiveness of the trades with the help of many videos.
The vocational training programmes in general secondary education offer three completion certificates:
- Technician's diploma (DT; Diplôme de technicien) which allows the pupil to directly enter the job market or enrol in higher technical education in the speciality field of their diploma
- Vocational aptitude diploma (DAP; Diplôme d'aptitude professionnelle) which prepares the participant for immediate entry into professional life
- Vocational capacity diploma (CCP; Certificat de capacité professionnelle) that also prepares for direct entry into professional life but also opens up the opportunity for further studies (master craftsman or higher technical studies).
Adult apprenticeship as well as some of the programmes offered by other training institutions (e.g. chambers, private institutions) also lead to these certificates.
The master craftsmanship certification (brevet de maîtrise) is awarded by the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth in cooperation with the Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts. The Ministry of Education, Children and Youth is responsible for the recognition of professional qualifications of health professions (nursing aide, nurse, nurse specialist, social worker, physiotherapist, etc.) and socio-educational professions (educator, care assistant).
The Service for the recognition of diplomas (Service de la reconnaissance des diplômes) within the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth is also responsible for the recognition of diplomas issued in foreign countries.
Apprenticeships are entitled to a salary; the amount depends on the specific profession. The salary is paid by the employer and supplemented by financial aid from the Employment fund (Fonds pour l'emploi) (the amount is 27% if the apprenticeship is cross-border, a technician's diploma or a proof of vocational suitability and 40 % if it is a CCP (vocational capacity certificate); the costs for social security are also covered by the Employment fund).
Apprenticeships that are organised exclusively as general secondary educational school programmes are funded by the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth.
Apprenticeships are also funded in the framework of EU programmes. Luxembourg makes use of the EU funding schemes that aim at strengthening the national economy and labour market (see: European Funds).
The regulatory framework of apprenticeships set by the 2008 law aims at 'increasing the number and the quality of trainers' (Art. 1,(2)).
According to the 2008 law, trainers must fulfil certain conditions: minimum 21 years of age, professional qualification (which is defined accordingly by the professional chamber), and no criminal record (Art. 22).
The law also defines an evaluation system by which the learning outcomes are evaluated on a regular basis by the trainers of the company or the responsible educators at school (Art. 12).
Furthermore, the chamber offers training courses for trainers ('train the trainer') in order to improve the quality and recognition of apprenticeship.