Leren werkt! (Learning works!)

27th August 2015

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Location / Country / Region

Flanders, Belgium. The project started in the region of Leuven, but got widely spread in the whole Flanders region.

Short description

‘Leren werkt!’ is a cooperation between L4 adult education and the VDAB (Flemish service for employment and vocational training). Low-educated adults that are unemployed get the chance to learn a profession and to obtain their degree in one year. This training is called OKOT (= OnderwijsKwalificerende Opleidingstrajecten). Because of this, the chances of the learner on the labour market will be strongly reinforced. Besides, they will also get a better self-esteem.

Actors Involved

Educational organisations in the region of Leuven-Hageland-Tervuren such as the CVO Leuven-Tienen-Landen, the CVO VTI Leuven, the CVO De Oranjerie the and CBE Open School as well as the VDAB (Flemish service for employment and vocational training) were involved.

Target audiences

Low-educated adults that are unemployed for a long time.

Time frame

The project started to develop in 2011. Today the project is spread over the whole Flanders region.

Relevant links, websites, etc.



De Hertogh, C., Peeters, K.,& Tratsaerts, P. (2014), Leren Werkt! Een nieuwe tweedekansleerweg voor laaggeschoolde werkzoekenden. http://www.lerenwerkt.org/sites/default/files/esfproject_leren_werkt_0.pdf  geraadpleegd op 16 december 2014


Links with national / regional priorities

  • The Flemish qualification framework
  • The Flemish government puts emphasis on the development and valorisation of talents in different settings: adult education, part-time art education, taking exams in front of the Flemish examination board and the acquisition of prior learning.
  • The government wants to improve the transition from education to labour by stimulating workplace learning, internships and part-time learning.
  • In the Lifelong Learning policy special attention is given for low chance groups

Political and Economic dimensions

Our economy is more and more knowledgebased, so having a degree is becoming more important. 43,1% of unemployed adults in Flanders is low-educated (Source: Arvastat, basisstatistieken werkloosheid – Vlaanderen augustus 2014). Highereducated people are taking their positions and in general low-educated people are in a less-advantageous situation.

Bottleneck professions will be filled in when this group of unused potential workforces enters the labour market.

Social dimensions

Being qualified leads to a higher self-esteem.

1. Detailed description

The CVOs (Centre for adult education) are providing the theoretical courses that are necessary to receive the degree. The practical training takes place in the VDABtraining centres. Because of the Flemish Qualification Framework and the connected validation of acquisition of prior learning, the students can get recognition for the competencies they learned elsewhere like for example in their previous job.

To be allowed in the programme, the learner should be unemployed for a while and aligned to the VDAB, should be at least 22 years old, can not have a secondary education degree and should be able to study fulltime. If someone wants to study for a higher degree, he/she must find a job apart from school.

Students with alimony can keep it during the whole year because they are doing a full-time training of 35 hours a week. The training is free of charge and the cost of the use of books, work clothing and working tools is covered. Students also get a free pass for public transport and get €0,15 repayment for each kilometre when they have to go by car to their internship. Furthermore, when the distance between the home of the student and the training-centre is important enough, he/she can get a repayment for housing. The cost of day care for children is also covered. If the students finish their training they get a bonus. After the training there is also the possibility to get career guidance by a consult of the VDAB during six months.

The students of this training also have some obligations. They are obligated to be present in class at all time and they have to sign the school regulations. After the training, they are obligated to accept each job offer that corresponds with the competencies they gained during the training.

2. Analysis


The cooperation between the labour market and education is remarkable in this training. The students get a lot of practical courses and because of the cooperation with the VDAB which provide professional instructors, these students will be uppermost prepared to enter the labour market. Another innovative element of the project is the fact that students can study and keep their alimony at the same time. Because of this, the barrier to start the training is less high. Apart from this there are also a lot of free services the students can use during their studies which makes it easier to combine their private life with studying (day care for children for example).

Key success factors

  • The cooperation between the VDAB and the schools for adult educations (CVO’s).
  • The low barrier that is created for students to enroll in the programme.


The project is spread over the whole Flanders region and there are regular evaluation sessions.

Contributions to LLL Policy 

– Connecting adult education to the labour market

– Validation of acquisition of prior learning

What could be adapted to other projects.

We would advise other projects to also engage different actors in the LLL-field.

3. Lessons Learnt

Regarding the building of a shared definition of LLL in LLL-Hub

There should be a great emphasis on the labour market in the definition of LLL.

Regarding the possibilities of having practices in LLL which evolve and become more innovative

It is difficult to cooperate between different organisations since the administrations of for example the VDAB and the education network (CVO’s,..) are not synchronized.

Regarding the key actors, their roles and activities in LLL

It is important to try to cooperate with as many relevant organisations as possible. It is thanks to the fact that the VDAB and the CVO’s acted together on this programme that it was possible to link the practical trainings given by the VDAB to a degree.

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