The federal State initiates various measures aimed at improving the quality of the labour force, some of which facilitate access to training, and in particular the paid educational leave scheme. The federal State also has competence for matters relating to labour law and social security: for example, one scheme gives employers the right to a reduction in social security contributions if they recruit young job-seekers who combine work and vocational training.
Distance learning, education for social advancement, and part-time arts education fall within the competence of the French Community. The government of the French Community is also responsible for general policy on continuing education for adults: under certain conditions, it allocates grants to continuing education providers and subsidies for permanent staff positions. The French Community also holds legislative power in the following areas: conditions of apprenticeship access, course organisation, continuous assessment and examinations, minimum requirements with which apprenticeship programmes must comply, and the award and statutory recognition of achievement certificates. Certification with associated legal entitlements (granting access to a regulated profession or to a subsidised job; equivalence with other diplomas; determining a given level on a salary scale for civil servants; or conferring a right to redundancy pay or unemployment benefits) is restricted to those bodies that comply with the accreditation procedures stipulated by the Ministry.
Finally, competence for training has been entrusted to the Regions: the development of vocational training is intended to give everybody, and in particular the most underprivileged, access to employment, and to allow workers to adapt or to improve their professional qualifications. In this perspective, the regions take measures to support training (for example, the training-cheques system established by the Walloon Region in 1998), and they contribute to the development of dual vocational education and training and to various training/integration initiatives for the benefit of low-skilled groups. The Walloon Region also has responsibility for vocational training of personnel working in the agriculture sector. Various initiatives aim to facilitate access to information and communication technologies (for example the Walloon Region’s Mobilisation Plan for Information and Communication Technologies) or languages (for example cheques issued in Brussels for language training or ICT training when an employee is hired). In the Brussels-Capital Region, the administration of the French Community Commission (Cocof) is responsible for the approval and funding of socio-occupational integration scheme operators and local missions which serve as partners to Bruxelles Formation in the socio-occupational integration scheme.
In each of the Regions, there is an organisation with responsibility for implementing training policies: these are the Walloon Office for Vocational Training and Employment (known as Forem), and in particular its specialised branch Forem Formation, created by a decree of the Walloon Regional Council on 16 December 1988, and the Institute of French-Speaking Brussels for Vocational Training (IBFFP), generally known as Bruxelles Formation, created by the decree of the French Community Commission of 17 March 1994. On 1 April 2004, a Walloon decree provided a legal framework for the ‘integration path’ (decree on the integrated socio-occupational integration scheme or DIISP) : this organises, between various operators, prequalification, qualification and integration actions which are integrated, coordinated and centred on the beneficiaries, so as to enable those who are the furthest removed from employment to gain access to a lasting, quality job. The decree modified the process of approval and subsidisation for the entire non-profit socio-occupational integration sector, and aims in particular to reinforce access ‘pathways’ between the different operators. The development of these pathways is also one of the challenges facing policy-makers in Brussels.
The non-profit French-Speaking Institute for Continuing Education for the Independent Professions and Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (IFAPME) used to provide training for adults and teenagers who wished to learn or improve themselves in a profession that they wanted to practise on a self-employed basis or as qualified workers in a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME). In 2003, IFPME was split into two entities, one covering the territory of the Brussels-Capital Region (the SFPME – Small and Medium-Sized Companies Training Service of the French Community Commission, which oversees the non-profit organisation EFPME – Training Centre for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises), and the other that of the Walloon Region (IFAPME – the Walloon Institute of Dual Vocational Education and Training for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises).
The French Community has powers with regard to several other categories of training.
Social advancement education caters to adults, and represents part of an overall approach of lifelong learning. The French Community decree of 16 April 1991 which organises this form of education describes its main purposes in Article 7. A decree dated 14 November 2008 relates to the integration of social advancement education in the European Area, while another decree dated 30 April 2009 aims to boost the provision of literacy training in social advancement education institutions for the benefit of ‘under-schooled’ groups.
Distance learning is organised by the decree of 18 December 1984, and part-time secondary arts education (ESAHR) by the decree of 2 June 1998.
The decree on support for voluntary action in the field of further education (17th July 2003) sets out the conditions for the granting of recognition and subsidies to providers of further education for adults.