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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Main types of provision

Belgium - French Community

8.Adult education and training

8.4Main types of provision

Last update: 14 December 2023

Provision to raise achievement in basic skills

Distance learning, organized in e-learning

In collaboration with full-time education, distance learning, organized in e-learning, is developing online remediation modules to address recurrent gaps in students’ knowledge and skills. Some of these are aimed specifically at young people aged 10 to 14 years, and seek to remedy shortcomings in basic skills, such as reading speeds in French or oral comprehension in Dutch.

Adult literacy

“Adult literacy policies concern Francophone adults or not, who do not have the CEB or do not have equivalent skills to the CEB” (see Comité de pilotage permanent sur l’alphabétisation des adultes (2019). État des lieux de l'alphabétisation - 8e exercice. Données 2014-2016. Brussels: Ministry of the French Community, p. 2).

Diagnostic tests have been devised, and are mainly used by the regional branches of the network for the coordination of adult literacy campaigns in French-speaking Belgium, Lire et écrire. Training of operators in the use of these tests and their dissemination is in progress. The tests make it possible to identify the target public and assess individual progress.

Adult literacy training does not directly aim at the obtaining of certificates or diplomas.

However, exams are organized annually with a view to awarding the certificate of primary education (CEB) to people who are no longer subject to compulsory education. The inspectorate is responsible for giving written notice that the examination will be held to all organisations recognised by the French Community involved in literacy or other adult training which are located in its area, as well as to other bodies and individuals at its own discretion. The assessment is based on a written assignment submitted beforehand by the candidate, an oral presentation of this work, and the acquisition and use in the elaboration and production of this work of the defined core skills.

Within the framework defined for further education, literacy training is characterised by an integrated approach: in addition to instruction in the strict sense, numerous providers arrange other activities with learners (visits to museums and other public places, local outings, workshops, etc.). Various forms of expression are explored: workshops in writing, drama, singing, etc. Other workshops focus on specific learning areas such as preparing to get a driver’s licence or civic participation and involvement (topical issues workshops, learners’ committees, etc.), health and well-being (health workshops, vegetable gardening workshops, etc.), daily life (administrative documents, looking for a job, etc.) or leisure (reading groups, games, etc.) (see Comité de pilotage permanent sur l’alphabétisation des adultes (2019). État des lieux de l'alphabétisation - 8e exercice. Données 2014-2016).

Provision to achieve a recognised qualification during adulthood

Social advancement education in the strict sense

Social advancement education runs training courses which usually correspond to professional profiles. Each course consists of one or more training units which count as credits towards a qualification. Successful completion of a training unit entitles the student to a pass certificate. Pass certificates for the training units which make up a study section can then be converted by the holder into the qualification that is issued on completion of that section. The study sections are associated with certificates or qualification certificates in secondary education and degrees in higher education (short type and long type).

In social advancement secondary education :

  1. specific titles are awarded to students who successfully complete a section that does not correspond to full-time education ;
  2. titles corresponding to those issued by full-time secondary education are issued to students who successfully complete a section whose pedagogical file has been approved by the Government of the French Community and has been declared as awarding a certificate for a set of skills equivalent to the set of skills awarded by one of the titles of full-time education (including CEB, CQ and CESS) ;
  3. The institutions of social advancement education also deliver the certificate corresponding to the CESS to the holders of some CQs and the certificate of complement of general education with a view to the delivery of the certificate corresponding to the CESS organized by the social advancement education (CESS delivered by capitalization).

The social advancement higher education delivers the titles provided for in the decree of 7 November 2013 defining the landscape of higher education and the academic organization of studies (Décret Paysage).

The habilitation to organize higher education studies and to confer the academic degrees that award them is granted or withdrawn to a higher education institution by decree. The habilitations granted to the social advancement education institutions are decided by the Parliament of the French Community on the advice of the Academy of Research and Higher Education (ARES).

The social advancement education also issues the CAP (certificate of pedagogical aptitude) and organizes the CAPAES (certificate of pedagogical aptitude adapted to higher education).

The courses of higher education for social advancement education are organized in the first cycle (BES and baccalaureate) and in the second cycle (master).

Distance learning, organized in e-learning

Distance learning, organized in e-learning, does not lead to the award of diplomas, but to a certificate for the course of study chosen. A student who has studied for exams with a view to obtaining a diploma must take these in the presence of the French Community Examination Board. In computer science, however, certification is provided and recognized by social advancement education.

Forem and Bruxelles Formation

Successful completion of a training programme organised by Bruxelles Formation or by Forem, depending on the track chosen, leads to a diploma, certificate, or attestation. In some cases, no formal recognition is provided.

Once the professional training has been completed, Forem or Bruxelles Formation awards trainees an attestation which stipulates which course or module(s) have been taken. This attestation is not formally recognised in the education system, and does not confer entitlement to admission to specific study courses, or to social advancement education. However, it is valued highly by companies, which recruit new personnel on the basis of it.


At the end of the company manager’s training, the candidate takes examinations on management and theoretical and practical professional subjects. If he/she passes these three tests, he/she receives a company manager’s diploma endorsed by the French Community and satisfies all the legal requirements for access to the chosen profession. A candidate who only passes the test relating to management receives a ‘management certificate’.

Provision targeting the transition to the labour market

In the Walloon Region, the integrated socio-occupational integration scheme (2004) aims to provide access to lasting, quality jobs within a maximum of two years (including a maximum of six months of employment support). On the basis of a personal and professional profile and an assessment of the person’s needs, FOREM’s advisers identify with that person the steps to be taken towards employment, and make individualised training or employment proposals. Access to the scheme is opened by the voluntary signing of an integration credit contract.

There is a system for monitoring and supporting the unemployed, called the Support Plan (Activation) for the Unemployed (PAC), whose purpose is to support and activate the search for work increasingly promptly after a person has signed on as a job-seeker. Under this scheme, job-seekers are systematically invited for interview, both by the monitoring services (ONEM) and by the support services (Forem or Actiris), and sign personalised integration contracts which may include periods of training. The payment of unemployment benefit may be interrupted or even discontinued if the job-seeker fails to attend an interview with an employer or the regional service for employment and vocational training after an invitation.

Forem and Bruxelles Formation

The teaching methods used by Forem and Bruxelles Formation are based on the alternation of practical case studies and theoretical courses. Internships offer first-hand involvement in the environment of the chosen trade.

Forem runs qualifying training courses relating to all industrial and service sectors and at all qualification levels. It also works with several hundred companies, offering them courses which are adapted to their requirements (individual training in the company, courses created together with the company and collective training in the company).

The training programmes are designed in the form of highly flexible modules which enable each individual to construct his /her own training pathway. The training focuses on practical learning, is given by experienced instructors, and is both in line with the employment market and personalised. To develop a quality approach on the one hand and satisfy the legitimate aspirations of its customers on the other hand, Forem’s vocational training organisation uses working methods which ensure that customer requirements are addressed within the agreed time, divide its training provision into modules in line with customer requirements and ensure suitable follow-up after training. Forem’s vocational training is ISO9001-certified. Specific schemes are provided for workers who suffer collective redundancy. They are taken under the supervision of retraining units, which among other things offer them training possibilities.

In the Brussels-Capital Region, Bruxelles Formation organises more than 200 qualifying training courses on its own or with its partners. It has 12 training centers and a big center of information on careers and opportunities for inter-regional and international mobility :

- Bruxelles formation Carrefour : the information center on careers and training in the Brussels-Capital Region ;

- Bruxelles formation Tremplin and Tremplin Jeunes : Springboard Pole : the orientation, support and remediation center of which one part is entirely dedicated to young people under 29 years as part of the actions of the Youth Guarantee scheme ;

- Bruxelles formation Construction ;

- Bruxelles formation Digital ;

- Bruxelles formation Espaces numériques ;

- Bruxelles formation Logistique ;

- Bruxelles formation Métiers urbains ;

- Bruxelles formation Bureau et Services ;

- Bruxelles formation Management ;

- Bruxelles formation Langues ;

- Bruxelles formation Entreprises ;

- Bruxelles formation Technics.

Bruxelles Formation is also responsible for training for disabled people in the Brussels-Capital Region.

In its regional manager function of providing training, Bruxelles Formation collaborates with many partners through partnership agreements :

- Partnership with the socio-professional Insertion organizations (OISP) : more than 40 ;

- Partnership with 9 local missions in the region ;

- Partnership with the Social Advancement Education (EPS) and other institutions ;

- Partnership with the sectoral funds : numerous courses are conducted in collaboration with the sectoral funds (Horeca Forma Be Pro, Cefora, taxis Fund, EDUCAM, ....).

Professional manual, technical and industrial training courses are organised either on an inter-company basis or within individual companies, in line with their needs. The trainees are included in an existing course at a Bruxelles Formation centre, or an instructor is assigned to the company, or specific sections or training modules may be set up in the company or at a Bruxelles Formation centre. The methods used are mainly practical, based on working realities in companies (workshops, simulations, case studies, etc.).

Forem and Bruxelles Formation also organise a range of distance learning courses, which are modular in structure and free of charge.


IFAPME and EFPME organise dual vocational education and training, company manager’s training courses and continuing training which enables self-employed people, directors of small and medium-sized businesses and their employees to acquire additional professional skills and to adapt to new techniques and changes in the economic, legal or employment-law situation.

Training for the self-employed and for small and medium-sized enterprises comes in different forms, depending on the learners’ age and skills. Apart from the apprenticeship contract, the following forms of training are distinguished :

• The company manager’s training, which lasts for 2 or 3 years depending upon the profession, consists firstly of 8 hours of theoretical courses per week, usually spread over two evenings, and secondly of 4 days a week of practical training in a company. It is centred on the management of a company and the acquisition of professional knowledge. During this training, the candidate receives a progressive training allowance which varies according to level of qualification at the start of the agreement and whether or not it is necessary to take a preparatory year ;

• The preparatory year for training as a company manager is made up of 8 hours a week of theoretical and professional practice lessons and 4 days a week of practical training in a company if a work placement contract is signed ;

• Extended training includes advanced training (consisting of a regular adaptation to new problems arising in a company), refresher training (in-depth training in new and complex techniques or knowledge updates), conversion training (allowing a company manager to acquire the skills necessary to exercise another self-employed profession) and guidance in setting up a company (supervision for anyone planning to set up an independent business).

To obtain the company manager’s diploma, the candidate must show that he/she has acquired professional knowledge and practical experience :

• before or during the training, he/she may be/have been a helper in a family business, under a contract of employment, self-employed, hired in the framework of a training-employment contract, or even registered as a job-seeker (in this last case, he/she performs voluntary work placements in a company) ;

• he/she can benefit from a work placement agreement if he/she lacks the opportunity to acquire professional knowledge in the company during training. This agreement enables the person in question to gain practical experience in a company and to start learning about its management.

At-risk groups

Some operators’ actions target an ‘at risk’ group: their objective is to increase the chances for unemployed, low-skilled job-seekers of finding work on the job market. In the Walloon Region, socio-occupational integration agencies may be authorised and subsidised either as EFTs (on-the-job training enterprises), or as OISPs (socio-occupational integration agencies). EFTs and OISPs are training centres with non-profit organisation status which are directly dependent on the public welfare centres. In the EFTs, the training is based around work experience and the production of a piece of work, either within the EFT or within a company. These operators are responsible for prequalification training. In the Brussels-Capital Region, Bruxelles Formation has formed a series of partnership agreements with authorised socio-occupational integration agencies (OISPs): training operators that undertake activities in the area of adult literacy, basic training, preliminary training targeting a vocational sector and training leading to qualification, on-the-job training workshops (AFTs) which undertake on-the-job training activities within the organisation in question leading to the output (commercialised or non-commercialised) of goods or services, and local missions that, in addition to their local coordination roles, arrange vocational training programmes and ensure consultation between different parties involved in training and employment services for vulnerable job-seekers. The AFTs’approach involves introducing trainees to the real working environment within the framework of activities within the organisation. Their activities are subsidised for the implementation, within the framework of socio-occupational integration activities, of vocational training leading to qualifications, of dual vocational training leading to qualifications, of basic pre-qualification training, of literacy education and of on-the-job training. Another aim of the AFTs is to provide basic education and training from a lifelong learning perspective. The decrees which define the conditions for the approval and subsidisation of OISPs include certain stipulations regarding the arrangements to be put in place. Thus in the Brussels-Capital Region, socio-occupational integration schemes involve the implementation, in an integrated approach, of activities relating to reception, guidance, further education, vocational training and working in a company. The Walloon OISP website stipulates that the training uses a specially adapted educational approach to enable trainees to acquire general and technical skills, and that trainees receive psychological and social support.

Bodies approved as OISPs issue attendance certificates.

The skills centres are training and awareness-raising centres for both adult workers and young people undergoing initial training and their teachers. In the Walloon Region, 25 operators specialise in training in specialist fields, relating in particular to technology. Their work reflects the approach set out in successive restructuring plans for Wallonia, and in particular the development of competitiveness clusters. They are the product of partnerships between the Walloon Region, Forem, IFAPME, the social partners in the business sector, research centres and the universities. They are supported by the European Structural Funds. In the Brussels-Capital Region, expertise centres have been set up on similar principles. There are currently five of these.

Vocational training in agriculture is a form of post-school training. It is provided either in the form of courses (general, technical or management training), or on a more intermittent basis, in the form of study sessions, lectures, guided tours, contact days and advanced learning days. The basic, remedial and advanced programmes, at the end of which examinations are set, include courses on agricultural techniques, management and agricultural economy, as well as practical sessions. The training activities are run by authorised centres.

For those working in the non-commercial sector, suitable training is provided by non-profit organisations, certain sectoral funds and social advancement organisations.

Companies are playing an increasing role in the vocational training of employees in the private sector: as well as organising training courses for existing and newly-recruited workers, they also contribute to schemes which enable job-seekers to sample a working environment (in particular via the Training-Integration Plan). Some companies also work with vocational and technical schools in connection with initial training (internships), while a larger number of others enter into agreements with social advancement education providers, Forem and Bruxelles Formation in connection with refresher training for workers. Most large companies have developed their own internal training centres. Recent initiatives have related to areas such as quality circles.

In some sectors, Training Funds which are financed by a specific sectoral contribution pay for vocational training. Examples include the construction sector (the Construction Training Fund, FFC), the metalworking sector (Vocational Training Institute of the Metallurgical Sector, IFPM), the automotive sector (the Foundation for Vocational Training in the Automotive and Related Sectors, EDUCAM), textiles, chemicals, banking and insurance, timber and so on. The chambers of commerce are also involved in this process.

With regard to vocational training for public sector employees, some ministries provide training courses for their own staff. The oldest instance of this is the Ministry of Finance, which developed a training centre founded in the 1950s with a turnover of approximately 5,000 civil servants per year, in courses of a technical and vocational nature or training in communications. The Communities and Regions have also developed their own staff training policies. In particular, in-service teacher training is organised by the French Community.

Certain measures which have met with only limited success in French-speaking Belgium enable young people to attend initial training in a company in partnership with other training operators: these are the industrial apprenticeship contract, the employment/training agreements and the first job agreement.

Other initiatives have a preliminary training function among other things. The Walloon Region also finances the district associations and the regional missions. The district associations are non-profit organisations working in districts characterised by social housing and/or urban regeneration. They work to develop local dynamism (improving the local quality of life, activity leadership, social activities and local democracy), while supporting the socio-occupational integration of job-seekers and those on social welfare by providing them with preliminary training. The regional missions have developed within the framework of the integrated socio-occupational integration scheme (DIISP). Their primary goal is to implement integration and support actions.

Provision of liberal (popular) adult education

Part-time secondary arts education

As a complement to the teaching of arts in compulsory and higher education, Part-time secondary arts education (ESAHR) is organized in the French Community in 111 establishments, generally known as "academies". For the most part, these establishments are organized by the communes.

It is a non-compulsory, subsidised type of education, aimed at people of all ages : children from the age of 5, teenagers and adults.

Part-time secondary arts education is mainly arranged outside normal working hours, so that it is accessible to pupils and students in full-time education and to working adults.

Its three main aims are to :

• work towards the personal artistic development of pupils by promoting an artistic culture through learning various artistic languages and practices ;

• give pupils the means and training that allow them to become artistically independent, awakening their personal creativity ;

• provide an education that prepares pupils to satisfy the requirements for access to higher arts education.

In order to meet its aims, part-time secondary arts education can be provided in the following four areas : music ; speech and theatre arts ; dance ; plastic, visual and spatial arts.

The basic artistic courses are organized in training, qualification or transition streams, so as to enable students to acquire artistic and technical skills to be practiced until the end of their training and to master at the end of each stage of it. Pupils shall be assessed on the basis of artistic education and training objectives and skills taking into account :

• the pupil’s artistic intelligence, i.e. the ability to perceive the coherence of an artistic language ;

• the pupil’s technical mastery, i.e. his/her ability to make full use of the technical resources associated with each specialization ;

• the pupil’s autonomy, i.e. his/her ability to discover, develop and engage on his/her own in artistic activity of an equivalent quality to that which the course enabled him/her to achieve ;

• the pupil’s creativity, i.e. his/her ability to make full use of an individual artistic language with a view to producing original work.

The minimum admission age varies depending on the field and stream. Access to certain streams also requires certain educational requirements to be satisfied: attendance or successful completion of certain courses or the holding of certain certificates, and/or a favorable opinion from the class council and the admission council for the specialist field in question. Apart from these conditions, access to ESAHR is entirely free.

Part-time secondary arts education (ESAHR) issues certificates and/or diplomas for each of the basic arts courses. Unless exception, the certificates and diplomas awarded in ESAHR are not recognized for obtaining employment, for example in education.

Forem and Bruxelles Formation

Forem operates ‘open centres’ where a freely accessible environment makes self-training possible. Flexible hours, the availability of trainers and a variety of training supports allow individuals to progress at their own pace. Bruxelles Formation and Forem have both extended their distance learning provision, again making progression at the individual’s pace possible. An integrated skills management system which is common to Forem Formation and Forem Conseil has been developed on the basis of trade job reference guides (REMs). This tool is used for both the self-diagnosis and screening of job-seekers before a contract is signed. It is also used in the training reference guides.

Bruxelles Formation operates a remobilisation and support centre for the unemployed in the framework of the integration scheme. This centre is positioned as the starting-point of the training path, and is intended principally for young people who have signed an integration agreement with the Brussels Regional Employment Office (ACTIRIS). This centre is responsible for :

● assessing trainees’ basic skills ;

● evaluating the feasibility of their vocational plan ;

● identifying the steps towards achieving this vocational plan.

Other types of publicly subsidised provision for adult learners

Further education :

There are no legal texts setting out general regulations for the admission conditions for further education centres, nor for the evaluation of those who attend further education centres. Moreover, further education activity does not directly aim at the obtaining of certificates or diplomas.

In January 2020, some 280 associations had received recognition from the French Community as further education associations. The areas covered vary greatly: adult literacy (35 associations), equal opportunities for men and women (46), the environment (43), cultural activities (74), urban planning (21), etc. For example, the non-profit Association pour une Fondation Tavail-Université is a general further education organisation recognised by the Ministry of the French Community.

Associations and movements are recognised and supported with respect to four focus areas :

• civic participation and education (actions and programmes devised with the participants with a view to developing the exercise of active citizenship in terms of emancipation, equal rights, social progress, changing behaviour and mentalities, integration and responsibility) ;

• training of activity leaders, trainers and voluntary sector actors (programmes designed and organised or run on their own initiative or at the request of the organisations, whether recognised or not within the scope of the decree) ;

• services or analyses and studies (services including provision of documentation, educational and/or cultural tools; analyses and studies on society-based themes – designed and run on their own initiative or at the request of the non-profit sector, whether recognised or not within the scope of the decree) ;

• awareness and information (information or communication campaigns aimed at increasing public awareness with a view to changing behaviour and mentalities about issues of culture, citizenship and democracy).

In order to benefit from recognition, the education and training programmes and actions that are part of Focus 1, ‘Civic participation, education and training’, must :

• develop coherently with the social class and environment that they target ;

• plan and develop means of ensuring accessibility to and actual participation by the target group, public visibility and publicity for the activities and the association’s objectives ;

• differ by their content, the methodology used, and where applicable, the target public, from school, para-school, university, para-university, academic or vocational programmes ;

• differ by their objectives from social advancement and socio-occupational programmes.