Vocational Education and Training in the Netherlands

The Dutch education consists of different education sectors ranging from primary schooling to higher education (HE), and includes different kinds of education and training from compulsory education to courses and training offered to adults in the context of lifelong learning.

Formal VET (MBO) prepares students for both work and further education. It also promotes general education and personal development. The link to practice is very important in all formal VET programmes. To ensure this link with the labour market VET schools have extensive contacts with the regional business community, municipalities and social organisations. On completion of a VET course, students who wish to continue their education may progress to further education in their own schools or in universities for applied sciences.

The basis of VET courses is two-fold. The first element concerns the learning track, which determines the proportion of practical training (in-company) to school-based learning. The second element concerns the content, which determines what has to be learned in order to get an acknowledged diploma. As long as VET institutions observe these general regulations, they may organise their educational programmes as they wish. This means that VET schools (ROCs) are responsible for the pedagogical-didactical design and realisation of the VET programmes and courses. This also holds for educational publishers, who develop text books and other learning/teaching materials.

The Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF)

The Netherlands referenced its National Qualification Framework (NLQF) in October 2011 and is now in an early operational stage.

The Dutch Qualification Framework adapted the EQF with its 8 levels, with two slight differences, the ‘entry level’ on a level zero and the distinction of level 4 and level 4+.

The NLQF covers a wide range of qualifications, and recognises that different educational sectors and providers involved in lifelong learning in the Netherlands use different terms and processes to describe the learning outcomes, curricula and examination requirements.

Learning outcomes

What a student should know and be able to do in order to get a diploma is determined in a qualification dossier which specifies the knowledge, skills and competences for the particular qualification. In the qualification dossiers each occupation is determined on all the VET levels: what is the content of the occupation, what are the key activities and what should somebody be able to do to perform in the occupation.

Quality assurance

EQAVET enhances the quality of vocational and support individual Member States in promoting and monitoring continuous quality improvement of vocational education at both system and at the institutional level. The quality framework EQAVET is largely in line with the existing quality assurance in VET. Both use a model derived from the so-called "Deming Wheel" containing four phases: plan, do, check and act. The Dutch NCP for EQAVET (NLQAVET) is working on an action plan for quality in VET in the Netherlands to reference it to the EQAVET Framework. For this purpose a working group has been established, comprising representatives from VET, namely the Ministry of Education, the Council for vocational and adult education (MBO raad), the association of the seventeen CRAs (SBB), the association of private education providers (NRTO), the organisation of unions (FNV), the Youth Organisation for Vocational Education (JOB) the general association for education, and the Inspectorate.