Popularity of “learning contracts” slumps


Fewer students choose to mix classroom learning with hands-on training

4,000 drop in 10 years

Fewer students are taking on a leercontract or “learning contract”, in which they enrol in an alternative education programme to follow classes at school one day and receive hands-on training at a business four days a week. Ten years ago, the system attracted more than 7,000 students aged 15 and older; that figure is now only about 3,000.

According to organiser Syntra, the Flemish agency for entrepreneurial training, the reason is that young people with learning contracts work for low pay and sometimes during holidays. There are currently about a thousand “vacancies” at enterprises and the classes are becoming too small to be financially sustainable.

“The system successfully improves youngsters’ working chances,” says MP Robrecht Bothuyne. “85% of graduates find a job after one year.” After five years, 40% of graduates are self-employed. Bothuyne suggests improving the connection with part-time professional education. 

Photo credit: Ing Image

Low pay and inconvenient hours are causingmore and more Flemish students to shrug their shoulders at "learning contracts".

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Educational system

The Flemish educational system is divided into two levels: primary (age six to 12) and secondary school (12 to 18). Education is compulsory for children between the ages of six and 18.
Types - There are three educational networks in Flanders: the Flemish Community’s GO! network, and publicly funded education – either publicly or privately run.
Not enough space - In recent years, Flemish schools have been struggling with persistent teacher shortages and a growing lack of school spaces.
No tuition fees - Nursery, primary and secondary school are free in Flanders.

million school-going children in 2013


million euros Flemish education budget for new school infrastructures in 2013


percent of boys leaving secondary school without a diploma