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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Adult education and training

Belgium - German-Speaking Community

8.Adult education and training

Last update: 27 November 2023

This chapter deals with the main institutions in the field of adult education and training that  receive an endowment or are subsidized by the German-speaking Community of Belgium.

Some of these providers are institutions of second-chance education and are therefore aimed at adults without secondary education certificate.

Certain adult education bodies are aimed at both, professionals as well as jobseekers, others offer special programs to better prepare young or older unemployed or hard-to-place jobseekers on the labour market.

Other providers offer targeted training opportunities or provide re-training courses in particular disciplines.

Since 2008 there has been also a tailored decreed basis for the non-formal adult education, which previously recognized 13 private institutions. The aim is to promote social inclusion, equal opportunities, collective ability to act, the sense of citizenship and learning essential social and civic values.

The promotion of lifelong learning is the main objective of all education and training programs offered by the various providers. 

Please find here under some statics about the number of participants :  

Participants in training in 2019 :  

  • 18+: 130.292  

  • 0-18: 10.572  

Participants in training courses in 2020:  

  • 18+: 152,429 (of which 94,178 for digital activities)  

  • 0-18: 8.727 

Employment Office

The Government of the German-speaking Community and the Parliament of the German-speaking Communities are responsible for matters relating to employment. One of the tasks of the Labour Office in the German-speaking Community is, according to Art.2, §1-8. and §2 of the decree for the creation of a Labour Office in the German-speaking Community of 17.1.2000: to participate in the implementation of programmes for the re-employment of compensated fully unemployed persons or persons of equal status and §2- Within the framework of vocational training, the Labour Office has as its task to promote and organise the training and further training of job seekers and employees as well as retraining, with the exception of the training of the middle classes and the vocational training of persons working in agriculture.

"Within the framework of vocational training, the Labour Office has as its task to promote and organise the initial and continuing training of job-seekers and employed persons as well as retraining, with the exception of the training of the middle classes and the vocational training of persons engaged in agriculture." (Art. 2, §2 of the Decree of 17 January 2000 establishing a Labour Office in the German-speaking Community).

The employment office offers the opportunity to update knowledge, fill educational gaps and acquire an additional qualification. For those jobseekers who do not have the appropriate qualifications, the employment office offers the opportunity to acquire the knowledge they have been lacking so far, so that they can integrate more easily into the world of work. The Labour Office has set up observation, orientation and socio-professional introduction centres for the low-skilled unemployed, and with this initiative it is pursuing the specific goal of providing them with the elementary skills required for working life.

Institute for Initial and Continuing Training in SMEs (IAWM)

The legal basis for the education and training organised by the IAWM is the decree of 16 December 1991 on education and training in small and medium-sized enterprises.

The IAWM centres deal with initial and continuing training in SMEs and small and medium-sized enterprises. In particular, with the basic training (apprenticeship and training to become a master craftsman), the further training and with the retraining of journeymen, master craftsmen and company employees who exercise one of the self-employed professions recognised by the High Council of the Middle Classes or another profession additionally recognised by the government of the DG.

The training of the middle classes aims at providing the general and professional knowledge necessary for the exercise of a liberal profession or certain other professions. The liberal professions recognised by the High Council of the Middle Class include professions in the fields of crafts and small trade, as well as various professions in the service sector. The training is ultimately aimed at providing aspirants with adequate preparation for the technical, commercial, financial and administrative management of a business.

At the end of certain training courses, a certificate is issued that allows access to the profession.

Institutes for continuing education

In the absence of a separate decree basis for the German-speaking Community, the institutes for further school education are for the time being still regulated by the coordinated laws on technical education and the corresponding implementing decrees. Major changes to the legal framework are to be expected soon.

The main objectives of continuing school education are, on the one hand, to contribute to personal fulfilment through improved professional, social, cultural and educational integration and, on the other hand, to meet the training needs and demands of companies, administrations, other educational institutions and the socio-economic and cultural milieu in general. Training offers are tailored to individual and collective needs in the field of general education, updating of knowledge, professional qualification, perfection, retraining and specialisation.

Agricultural Education and Training Centres

By the Decree of 29 February 1988 on the initial and continuing vocational training of persons working in agriculture and by an implementing decree of 27 May 1993 on the initial and continuing vocational training of persons working in agriculture, the government may recognise centres, associations or federations organised as NPIs (non-profit associations) and subsidise their activities in connection with initial and continuing vocational training in agriculture. The main objective of the agricultural education and training centres is to provide and constantly update professional knowledge in the field of agriculture in order to make farms in East Belgium more adaptable and competitive and to offer young farmers the possibility of setting up their own business in agriculture.

Organisations for non-vocational and non-formal folk and adult education.

These are associations of natural and legal persons created and managed by private individuals. The legal basis is a decree and a decree with implementing provisions:

the Decree of 18 January 1993 on the recognition and subsidisation of popular and adult education organisations,

the Executive Decree of 7 May 1993 on the recognition and subsidisation of organisations for popular and adult education (amended on 3 June 1996),

Their aim is to offer and carry out activities, primarily for adults, which

contribute to the further development of intellectual abilities

aim at a meaningful leisure activity, and

focus on the formation of awareness and the ability to make decisions, to take responsibility and to participate in socio-cultural life.

Paid educational leave

Private sector workers engaged in full-time work may claim paid educational leave to improve their education or training. They retain their pay on condition that they follow one or more training courses specified in the law. There does not necessarily have to be a link between the occupation and the chosen field of training, and it does not matter whether these trainings take place during or outside normal working hours.

Workers in the public sector, provinces, municipalities, communities and regions, the unemployed, freelance workers, workers under apprenticeship contracts and teaching staff cannot claim paid educational leave.

As far as the granting of such educational leave is concerned, there are no conditions with regard to age or nationality.

The duration of the paid educational leave shall be equal to the number of teaching hours which the chosen training comprises, starting from the first year. The training must comprise at least 32 hours and a maximum of 180 hours may be taken per year.

The following annual limits apply to educational leave:

If the training takes place outside working hours :

120 hours for continuing vocational training

80 hours for general continuing education

120 hours for one vocational and one general periodic training course taken in the same year

80 hours for one or more language courses

120 hours for one or more language courses and one continuing vocational training course.

If the continuing education takes place during working hours :

180 hours for continuing vocational training

120 hours for general continuing education

180 hours for continuing vocational and general training taken during the same year.

Educational leave can be either entirely before the end-of-year examinations, or spread per month or per week, or partly spread over the year and the examinations. Educational leave can be either full days or only a few hours.

Employees who claim paid educational leave receive their normal pay. The employer is reimbursed for these payments by the Federal Ministry of Labour with a cap of about € 1,900 per month.

The employee loses the right to the educational leave:

if he discontinues or interrupts the education or training;

if he fails to attend more than 10% of the lessons;

if he pursues a lucrative activity during the period of educational leave;

if he or she fails to successfully complete the training twice in succession.