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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Teaching and learning in vocational upper secondary education

Belgium - French Community

6.Secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

6.8Teaching and learning in vocational upper secondary education

Last update: 28 March 2024

Curriculum, subjects, number of hours

Both qualification-stream education and dual vocational education and training prepare the pupil for the exercise of a profession.

The Community Commission of Professions and Qualifications (CCPQ), replaced by the French-Language Professions and Qualifications Service (SFMQ : Service Francophone des Métiers et des Qualifications), created by a cooperation agreement between the French Community, the Walloon Region and the French Community Commission (Cocof – Brussels-Capital Region), has defined job profiles (reference guides describing the activities and skills of fully competent workers in companies) and training profiles (reference guides setting out in a structured fashion the skills to be acquired in order to obtain a qualification certificate). Each job profile has a corresponding training profile.

Nine fields of study in both the qualification-stream

Qualification-stream technical education
Vocational education
Horticultural technician, agricultural technician, etc.
Skilled horticultural worker, skilled agricultural worker, etc.
Graphical industry technician, etc.
Garage mechanic, gunsmith, etc.
Lumber industry technician, construction draughtsman, etc.
Skilled construction worker – basic construction, cabinetmaker, construction equipment operator, carpenter, etc.
Hotel management and catering
Hotel/restaurant manager, etc.
Butcher, ...
Clothing and textiles
Operator of textile product manufacturing machines, technical worker in fashion and creative industry, etc.
Sales assistant/seamstress, qualified tailor/dressmaker
Applied arts
Habitat structure technician, graphic designer, etc.
Advertising assistant, jeweller, etc.
Tourist information officer, office worker, etc.
Salesman, clerk, receptionist, etc.
Care services
Educational assistant, candidate nurse, etc.
Caregiver, childminder, etc.
Applied science
Optician, pharmaceutical assistant, etc.
Agri-food industries production worker

In the artistic qualification-stream, a single field of study (fine arts) is offered.

In full-time education

The qualification stream (technical and vocational humanities) provides an education as outlined in the general objectives of education. This form of education consists of general courses plus qualification-oriented training, which is designed to attain the competencies detailed in a training profile and in a certification profile. The primary purpose of the qualification streams is entry into working life through the gaining of a qualification certificate, while retaining the possibility of continuing studies in higher education.

The skills and knowledge required in humanist education upon completion of a vocational and technical humanities course have been defined : final achievement targets and core knowledge required of all pupils upon completion of a qualification stream leading to an upper secondary education certificate, final achievement targets and core knowledge required of all pupils upon completion of a qualification stream leading to the certificate of completion of 6th year vocational education; minimum communication competencies in a language other than French (when the study of a modern language is part of the curriculum); and the required knowledge and skills in physical education.

The vocational and technical humanities must also develop the competencies detailed by the training and certification profiles : these profiles form the basis of certification.

The reference guides serve as learning guides and assessment safeguards. For all schools, they represent the entire reference set which determines the study level and around which curricula are structured: the curricula, meanwhile, for which the controlling authorities are responsible, stipulate the resources to be deployed.

Qualification-stream education is organised on the basis of schedules which differ depending on the programme, options chosen, and stage.

The core subjects are similar to those in the transition stream.

The different qualification-stream education schedules must include at least 16 (technical or artistic qualification stream) or 18 periods per week of grouped options. The courses from the common core relate in overall terms to the same subjects as transition-stream education, but the orientation and the number of teaching hours may differ greatly. The learning of a modern language has been compulsory in vocational education since 2015.

The two years of the 3rd qualification stage must be followed in the same study orientation and with the same timetable (with the exception of the transition from the 5th qualification-stream technical year to the 6th vocational year or a change of study orientation between the 5th and 6th vocational years, under certain conditions). A reorientation year is possible in the 4th year.

Two schedules used in the education organised by the French Community are presented below by way of example.

Weekly Schedule for the Second Vocational Stage in 2022-2023 (number of periods of 50 minutes per week) - Schools Organised by the French Community

Course periods
I. Common core
Religion/ethics/philosophy and citizenship
Geography 1
Scientific education (mathematics, exploration of scientific and geographical realities)
Modern Language I
Physical education
Strenghtening (common core) 0 to 5
Strenghtening : specific for French 2 to 4
II. Free options:
Optional courses: Grouped core option
minimum 16, maximum 20
Optional activity
maximum 2
31 to 36


Weekly Schedule for the Third Vocational Stage in 2022-2023 (number of periods of 50 minutes per week) - Schools Organised by the French Community

Number of periods
I. Common core:
Religion/ethics/philosophy and citizenship
Social and economic development
Scientific education
0 or 2
Modern language I
0 or 2
Physical education
13 or 15 or 17
Strenghtening (common core)
maximum 5
II. Free options :
Optional course: Grouped core option
minimum 18, maximum 22
Optional activities
Maximum 4
34 to 36


In dual vocational education and training

Dual vocational education and training consists of both general education – including social and personal development – and preparation for employment.
It should be noted that, in the case of people who have already satisfied their compulsory schooling obligation by attending dual education and training, courses may cover only job training.

Under the terms of the decree on dual vocational education and training of 8 January 2009, all dual vocational education and training courses must be based on the training profiles drawn up by the SFMQ. However, as a transitional measure, the apprenticeship training courses organised by the IFAPME and the SFPME which are already recognised will also lead to the apprenticeship certificate. The dual vocational education and training provider draws up an individual training plan for every young person wishing to enter this form of education, making the most of what he or she has already learnt and his or her vocational plans, while adhering to the training profiles.

In the CEFAs in ordinary education, dual vocational education and training is scheduled as 600 x 50-minute periods per year spread over at least twenty weeks in school, which means, most of the time, 15 50-minute periods per week, and at least 600 hours of training in the workplace.

Teaching methods and materials

In full-time education

See Teaching and Learning in General Lower Secondary Education

Specificities to Qualification-stream education :

For several years, educational and methodological resources have been introduced in vocational education :

  • interdisciplinarity, reduced-size educational teams ;
  • project-oriented and workshop class teaching methods ;
  • time-management changes (pupils’ learning speeds and methods are taken into account) ;
  • developing the relationship between school and the world of work ;
  • educational coordination and support and (subject-related) remedial classes.

As part of the fight against school failure, for promotion and wellness in schools, the project "Expairs" was launched for students in the second degree of the ordinary vocational education in 2012. Several schools had the opportunity to suggest educational and organizational innovation projects. The mechanisms put in place were evaluated in order to perpetuate the best ones and possibly adjust legal texts.

Secondary education schools are gradually developing activities in cooperation with companies in their region, e.g. when schools do not have adequate equipment at their disposal.

The ‘Contract for School’ signed on 31 May 2005 as well as the decree of 11 April 2014 guaranteeing educational equipment for vocational education (Décret garantissant l'équipement pédagogique de l'enseignement qualifiant et fixant l'organisation des centres de technologies avancées) have improved the quality of the qualification streams of technical and vocational education through two types of measures: investment in teaching materials and the creation of new infrastructure in the French Community, the ‘advanced technology centres’ (CTAs), which help improve the quality of training and qualification-type education, in particular by making sophisticated equipment available to pupils and teachers.

Moreover, the government subsidises a non-profit organisation (Centre Zénoble Gramme) which seeks out companies that could give away equipment to schools, informs companies about schools’ needs for equipment, and distributes on a fair basis the equipment obtained among schools in the different networks.

The decree of 11 April 2014 (Décret modifiant le fonctionnement des instances de pilotage interréseaux de l'enseignement qualifiant) changes the functioning of the inter-network Steering Authorities of vocational education and allows the implementation of the Social Catchment Areas for Education - Training - Employment. This permanent and structured device aims at facilitating collaboration between the stakeholders in the world of vocational education (secondary, tertiary and social advancement), professional training and employment. This will facilitate a real consistency between vocational education and professional training provision, as well as with the socio-economical needs of each social catchment area. These social catchment areas will also facilitate the development of joint projects to improve vocational education and professional training at local level. Wallonia opts for a strong local partnership between the worlds of education and training on the one hand, and the social partners (organized at a sectoral or an intersectoral level) on the other hand, aiming at a better harmonization of the training supply and an improvement of its quality. They will also develop "synergies poles" around vocational pathways or promising jobs, particularly in order to permit optimum use of resources both in personnel and equipment or buildings.

The decree of 22 June 2023, on the governance of the offer of grouped core options in full and part-time vocational education, is part of the Pact for Excellence in Teaching. In order to offer young people leaving vocational secondary education direct access to employment, by guaranteeing them access to job-creating options, the decree of 22 June 2023 aims to improve the way in which socio-economic needs are taken into account in the supply of vocational options, and to achieve greater coherence in the supply of vocational education in the French Community, at zonal and school level. The decree integrates local socio-economic players into the governance process for vocational options (Chambres Enseignement), and new decision-making tools (online application) are made available to organizing authorities and schools to enable them to make more coherent proposals for opening and closing options. The online application makes it possible to visualize, for each Social Catchment Area and the whole French Community, the supply and attendance of options in vocational education, and to identify job-creating options so that schools can make strategic decisions in their own organization and programming of options, and thus better respond to local and supra-local socio-economic needs.
When the programming of options is not sufficient to meet needs, the regulator issues calls for tender to schools in order to facilitate the opening of job-creating options or to increase the existing offer if it is insufficient.

In dual vocational education and training

The information given in 6.2 about the methods and tools used in full-time education also applies to the CEFAs.

Specificities in dual vocational education and training :

The decree on dual education of 8 January 2009 imposes common organisational arrangements on all courses in dual vocational education and training and the decree on Steering Authorities of 11 April 2014 implements the Social Catchment Areas for Education - Training - Employment (see above)

The CEFAs establish vocational insertion agreements for a maximum one-year term, for pupils who are subject to a part-time schooling obligation or who enrolled in a CEFA before 31 December of the year in which they turn 18 during the school year that follows their enrolment in the CEFA. These socio-occupational integration agreements are recognised by the Labour Code or approved by the government of the French Community. Such agreements, which may be renewed to enable students to complete their training cycle, are concluded between the centre, the host company, and the student with the approval of the parents or legal guardian. The agreement outlines the reciprocal obligations of the student and the host company and the amount of the training allowance payable to the student.

At each CEFA, supervisors are responsible for organising the search for and monitoring of internships, contracts and agreements, forming and developing contacts with local and regional socio-economic circles and professional associations, establishing regular contacts with the Centre for Psychological, Medical and Social Services in charge of pupil guidance and more generally taking any initiative that is likely to promote the pupil’s social and cultural development.

Whether at the IFAPME, at the SFPME, or at the CEFAs, dual vocational education and training is the subject of contracts entitled "single contracts", which are identical in the various training centres.  An individualised training plan must be drawn up, and it is this training plan (on 3 levels) which determines, among other things, the salary of the student/apprentice, which will be identical regardless of the training centre. This contract determines the training obligation, the contractual parties’ rights and obligations and the progressive monthly allowances that the apprentice will receive throughout his or her training.

At both the CEFAs and at the IFAPME or the SFPME, for pupils subject to the schooling obligation and for adult pupils who are excluded, the training can be preceded by an individualised instruction module which includes the elaboration of a life project, guidance towards a trade, education about the rules of community life, upgrading the elementary knowledge base, and the acquisition of the minimum competencies required for access to training in a company.