To do an apprenticeship in Belgium is a popular choice for those looking to gain valuable work experience and learn practical skills in their chosen profession. The apprenticeship system in Belgium is highly regarded, offering opportunities for students and young adults to enter the workforce and gain hands-on experience while earning a wage. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the apprenticeship system in Belgium, including its benefits, requirements, and opportunities.
Apprenticeship in Belgium: Basics
An apprenticeship in Belgium is a form of vocational training that allows students and young adults to gain practical skills and work experience in a specific profession. During an apprenticeship, the apprentice works for an employer and receives on-the-job training and mentoring, while also attending theoretical training at a vocational school.
Belgium offers a wide range of apprenticeship opportunities across various professions and industries. Some of the most popular industries for apprenticeships in Belgium include construction, hospitality, healthcare, and IT. Below, we provide some more details on these industries:
- Construction: Construction apprenticeships in Belgium are in high demand, with many opportunities available for those interested in building and construction. Apprenticeships in this field can include training in carpentry, masonry, and electrical work. Many construction companies in Belgium offer apprenticeship programs to young adults looking to enter the workforce.
- Hospitality: The hospitality industry in Belgium is a major contributor to the country’s economy, with many restaurants, hotels, and cafes offering apprenticeship opportunities. These apprenticeships can include training in culinary arts, hotel management, and customer service.
- Healthcare: The healthcare industry in Belgium is one of the largest and most diverse in Europe, offering a range of apprenticeship opportunities in fields such as nursing, physiotherapy, and medical technology. Apprenticeships in healthcare can provide students with the necessary skills and experience to start their careers in this growing industry.
- IT: The IT industry in Belgium is rapidly growing, with many companies seeking talented individuals to fill a range of IT positions. Apprenticeships in IT can include training in software development, networking, and cybersecurity, among other areas.
Cities of Belgium with a high number of apprenticeships
In terms of Belgian cities, Brussels, Antwerp, and Ghent are some of the most popular destinations for apprenticeships in Belgium. Brussels, as the capital city, offers a wide range of apprenticeship opportunities across various industries. Antwerp, located in the Flemish region, is known for its thriving port and offers many apprenticeships in the logistics and shipping industries. Ghent, another Flemish city, is a popular destination for apprenticeships in the technology and healthcare sectors.
Benefits of an Apprenticeship in Belgium
Completing an apprenticeship in Belgium can offer a range of benefits to apprentices, including:
- Paid Work Experience: Apprentices in Belgium receive a wage for their work, which can help cover living expenses while they gain work experience and training.
- Industry-Specific Training: Apprenticeships in Belgium offer training in a specific industry or profession, which can give apprentices valuable skills and knowledge that they can apply to their future careers.
- Improved Employability: Completing an apprenticeship in Belgium can make apprentices more attractive to future employers, as it demonstrates that they have practical skills and work experience.
- Networking Opportunities: Apprenticeships in Belgium can offer opportunities to meet industry professionals and make valuable connections that can benefit apprentices in their future careers.
Facts and figures
- Belgium has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Europe.
- Over 80% of Belgian employers believe that apprenticeships are an effective way to address skills shortages.
- In 2019, there were approximately 98,000 apprenticeships in Belgium.
- The most popular apprenticeship sectors in Belgium are construction, retail, and manufacturing.
- The Flemish Community in Belgium has its own apprenticeship system, separate from the French-speaking Community.
- Germany has influenced the Belgian apprenticeship system, known as "duaal leren," with its successful dual education model.
- Apprenticeships in Belgium can lead to various qualifications, including a professional bachelor's degree or a vocational certificate.
Requirements to Start an Apprenticeship in Belgium
To start an apprenticeship in Belgium, you must meet certain requirements, including:
Age and Education Requirements: Apprenticeships in Belgium are typically available to students who are at least 15 years old and have completed at least the first two years of secondary school.
Language Proficiency: Depending on the profession and employer, apprentices in Belgium may be required to have proficiency in Dutch, French, or German.
Physical Requirements: Some professions may have specific physical requirements that must be met in order to participate in an apprenticeship.
Types of Apprenticeships in Belgium
Dual System Apprenticeships: These apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with theoretical training at a vocational school. They are available in a range of industries, including construction, mechanics, and hospitality.
Part-Time Apprenticeships: Part-time apprenticeships allow apprentices to work and study at the same time. These apprenticeships are typically available to students who are still in school and can offer a flexible option for gaining work experience and training.
Full-Time Apprenticeships: Full-time apprenticeships are available for those who have completed their secondary education and want to focus on their vocational training full-time.
Finding an Apprenticeship in Belgium
Belgium, with its multilingual environment and diverse industries, offers a wealth of opportunities for those seeking apprenticeships. The country’s dual learning system combines classroom-based education with practical on-the-job training, providing apprentices with a comprehensive learning experience. Whether you’re interested in the culinary arts, engineering, or information technology, you’re likely to find an apprenticeship program that suits your interests and career goals.
One of the key resources for finding an apprenticeship in Belgium is the VDAB, the Flemish Service for Employment and Vocational Training. This public employment service is committed to matching job seekers with employers in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium. On the VDAB website, you can search for apprenticeships, learn about different professions, and get advice on how to apply for an apprenticeship.
In addition to the VDAB, there are several other organizations that can help you find an apprenticeship in Belgium. For example, Le Forem serves the French-speaking region of Wallonia, while Actiris is the public employment service for the Brussels-Capital Region. These organizations provide a range of services, including career advice, job matching, and support for apprentices. Remember, finding the right apprenticeship takes time and research, but the effort can pay off in terms of valuable skills, work experience, and career opportunities.
Here are the steps you should follow to find an apprenticeship in Belgium.
Research different industries
Research different industries to identify the ones that offer apprenticeship programs aligned with your interests and career goals.
Explore apprenticeship platforms and job boards
Explore dedicated apprenticeship platforms and job boards to search for available apprenticeship opportunities in Belgium. Check for any specific eligibility criteria or requirements for each program.
Contact vocational training centers
Reach out to vocational training centers and schools in Belgium to inquire about apprenticeship programs they offer or any partnerships they have with employers. They may have valuable information and connections.
Network and attend career fairs
Attend career fairs and networking events related to your desired industry. Connect with professionals and representatives from companies that offer apprenticeships, and express your interest in joining their programs.
Prepare a compelling application
Prepare a well-crafted application highlighting your skills, education, and motivation for the apprenticeship. Tailor your application to each opportunity and follow any application instructions provided.
Attend interviews and assessments
If selected, attend interviews and assessments as part of the apprenticeship selection process. Showcase your enthusiasm, relevant skills, and willingness to learn during these interactions.
Evaluate and choose the best opportunity
Evaluate the apprenticeship offers you receive, considering factors such as the training provided, the reputation of the company or institution, and the potential for future career growth. Choose the opportunity that aligns best with your goals.
Accept the apprenticeship and fulfill requirements
Once you have accepted an apprenticeship offer, fulfill any necessary paperwork, contracts, or requirements outlined by the employer or institution. Prepare yourself for an exciting learning and professional development journey!
Questions and answers
How long does an apprenticeship last in Belgium?
The duration of an apprenticeship in Belgium varies depending on the type of apprenticeship and the industry, but typically lasts between one and three years.
Can I switch apprenticeships in Belgium?
Yes, it is possible to switch apprenticeships in Belgium, but it is subject to approval by the employer and the apprenticeship program.
What happens after I complete my apprenticeship in Belgium?
After completing an apprenticeship in Belgium, you will have acquired the necessary skills and knowledge to enter the workforce in your chosen profession. You may also have the opportunity to continue working with your employer or to pursue further education and training.
What is the structure of vocational training in Belgium?
Belgium offers a dual learning system that combines classroom-based education with practical on-the-job training. This system allows apprentices to gain a comprehensive learning experience, acquiring both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in their chosen profession.
How can I find an apprenticeship in Belgium?
There are several resources available to help you find an apprenticeship in Belgium. The Flemish Service for Employment and Vocational Training (VDAB), Le Forem, and Actiris are key organizations that provide information about available apprenticeships in their respective regions.
What qualifications do I need to start an apprenticeship in Belgium?
The qualifications required for an apprenticeship in Belgium can vary depending on the profession and the specific program. However, most apprenticeships require a secondary school diploma or equivalent. Some may also require a certain level of language proficiency, particularly in Dutch, French, or German, depending on the region.
What languages do I need to know for an apprenticeship in Belgium?
Belgium is a multilingual country with three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. The language requirement for an apprenticeship will depend on the region and the specific program. In Flanders, Dutch is the main language, while in Wallonia, French is predominantly spoken. In the Brussels-Capital Region, both Dutch and French are commonly used.
Can I get financial support during my apprenticeship in Belgium?
Yes, apprentices in Belgium usually receive a salary or allowance from their employer during their training. The amount can vary depending on the profession, the region, and the specific terms of the apprenticeship contract.
What are the career prospects after completing an apprenticeship in Belgium?
Completing an apprenticeship in Belgium can lead to a wide range of career opportunities. Many apprentices go on to secure full-time employment in their chosen profession. Others may choose to further their education or training. The skills and experience gained through an apprenticeship can be highly valuable in the job market.
Case Study: Construction Apprenticeship in Brussels
Sarah, a high school graduate, was interested in a career in construction. She found an apprenticeship program with a construction company in Brussels and applied. Over the next three years, Sarah received training in carpentry, masonry, and electrical work. She also worked on several construction projects throughout the city. After completing her apprenticeship, Sarah was offered a full-time position with the company.
Case Study: Hospitality Apprenticeship in Antwerp
Thomas, a young adult with a passion for cooking, found an apprenticeship opportunity at a restaurant in Antwerp. Over the next two years, Thomas received training in culinary arts, including cooking techniques and food safety. He also had the opportunity to work in various roles in the restaurant, including as a server and a line cook. After completing his apprenticeship, Thomas was offered a position as a full-time line cook at the restaurant.
Case Study: IT Apprenticeship in Ghent
Lucas, a recent college graduate with a degree in computer science, found an apprenticeship opportunity with an IT company in Ghent. Over the next two years, Lucas received training in software development, including programming languages and software engineering principles. He also had the opportunity to work on several IT projects for clients. After completing his apprenticeship, Lucas was offered a full-time position with the company.
Which big companies offer apprenticeships in Belgium?
Starting your apprenticeship in a big company can have several advantages. Large companies often have well-established apprenticeship programs, which means they have a structured system in place to provide you with a comprehensive learning experience. They are likely to offer a wide range of roles, giving you the opportunity to explore different areas of the business and find the one that suits you best. Furthermore, these companies often have more resources, which can translate into better training facilities, access to industry experts, and potentially higher apprenticeship wages.
In addition, completing an apprenticeship with a well-known company can be a valuable addition to your CV. It can demonstrate to future employers that you have been trained to a high standard and can handle the demands of working in a professional environment. Moreover, large companies often have extensive networks and partnerships with other companies, which can open up more opportunities for you in the future. Some big companies even offer progression routes or employment opportunities to their apprentices after the completion of the apprenticeship, providing a seamless transition into the workforce.
Here are some large companies that are known to offer apprenticeships globally and may offer similar opportunities in Belgium:
- Siemens: Siemens is a global powerhouse focusing on the areas of electrification, automation and digitalization. They offer apprenticeships in various fields such as engineering, IT, business administration, and more.
- IBM: IBM is a leading cloud platform and cognitive solutions company. They offer apprenticeships in areas like software development, technical solutions, and business operations.
- Unilever: Unilever is a multinational consumer goods company. They offer apprenticeships in areas such as supply chain, research & development, and marketing.
- Bosch: Bosch is a leading global supplier of technology and services. They offer apprenticeships in areas like engineering, IT, and business.
- Nestle: Nestle is the world’s largest food and beverage company. They offer apprenticeships in areas such as supply chain, engineering, and manufacturing.
- Procter & Gamble (P&G): P&G is a multinational consumer goods corporation. They offer apprenticeships in various fields such as supply chain, sales, and research & development.
- DHL: DHL is a global market leader in logistics. They offer apprenticeships in areas like operations, logistics, and supply chain management.
- Volvo: Volvo is a leading manufacturer of trucks, buses, construction equipment and marine and industrial engines. They offer apprenticeships in areas like engineering, manufacturing, and business.
- BASF: BASF is the world’s leading chemical company. They offer apprenticeships in areas such as chemical operations, engineering, and laboratory technology.
- Audi: Audi is a German automobile manufacturer that designs, engineers, produces, markets and distributes luxury vehicles. They offer apprenticeships in areas like automotive technology, manufacturing, and engineering.
Apprenticeship Suitability Quiz
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