5. Case study: Entry requirements and initial training of vocational teachers and trainers in the Netherlands

When finishing primary education at age 12, half of the students (50.4% in 2017-18) in the Netherlands continue into lower secondary pre-vocational programmes (VMBO) (Ministry of OCW, 2019[1]). Lasting four years, VMBO combines theoretical education with vocational training and prepares students for upper secondary VET (MBO). For those who cannot enter VMBO, a more practical education option is offered with a focus on vocational training (praktijkonderwijs).

Upper secondary VET programmes (MBO) are for those aged 16 or above and last between one and four years. The programmes offer four levels of courses and qualifications (Education Inspectorate, 2021[2]):

  • MBO Level 1 (Entry level VET): one-year training for students without lower secondary qualifications. Following the course completion, they can apply for Level 2.

  • MBO Level 2 (Basic VET): two-year training for those having completed the VMBO programme or MBO Level 1.

  • MBO Level 3 (Professional VET): two to three-year training for VMBO graduates, MBO Level 2 graduates, or students having completed the first three years (lower secondary level) of general education.

  • MBO Level 4 (Middle-management VET): three to four-year training for VMBO graduates, MBO Level 3 graduates, or students having completed the first three years (lower secondary level) of general education. This programme enrols more than half of upper secondary VET students (57% in 2020-21).

Post-secondary non-tertiary education (ISCED Level 4) is designed as a continuation from upper secondary education. It includes MBO 4 specialist training (typically lasting one year) and 1-year higher professional (HBO) courses (European Commission, 2021[3]). Its curriculum content is generally focused on entry to the labour market, but the programmes also provide a pathway into tertiary education.

VET programmes at the tertiary level, or higher professional education (HBO), are open to upper secondary general education and MBO Level 4 graduates. However, the Quality Through Diversity Act gives HBO providers the possibility to apply stricter admission criteria for MBO Level 4 students for specific programmes (Cedefop, 2016[4]). A substantial share of MBO Level 4 graduates enter a HBO programme: in the 2020-21, 44% started an HBO course. HBO programmes cover 7 sectors: agriculture and food, education, science and technology, economy, healthcare, social studies and art. The largest sector in terms of student enrolment is economics (38%), followed by the science and technology sector (21%) (Vereniging Hogescholen, 2020[5]). HBO programmes are delivered by university colleges, with some of the university colleges focusing on one sector and others providing programmes in a range of sectors: 22 institutions provide multi-sectoral courses and 14 provide courses in a single sector. HBO programmes are available at ISCED Level 5, leading to associate degrees, and ISCED Level 6, leading to professional bachelor qualifications. The former take two years to complete, the latter four years. Given that associate degree programmes largely coincide with the first half of professional bachelor programmes, their graduates have the opportunity to follow another two-year-long programme in order to receive a professional bachelor degree (see Annex A for the ISCED mapping).

MBO offers two parallel learning pathways that lead to the same qualification: a school-based track (beroepsopleidende leerweg, BOL) and an apprenticeship track (beroepsbegeleidende leerweg, BBL). In the former, workplace training accounts for 20-60% of learning, while in the latter it accounts for 60% or more (European Commission, 2021[9]). The system is very flexible and it is even possible for a student to switch between BOL and BBL pathways during their training (Casey, 2013[6]).

MBO students are expected to spend 1 600 hours a year on their studies, and the number of course hours depends on the learning pathway.

  • Apprenticeship track (BBL): The school year must comprise at least 850 course hours: at least 200 taught hours at school and at least 610 hours of practical training in the workplace. The remaining 40 hours may be either taught hours or practical training.

  • School-based track (BOL): The total number of hours and the minimum number of practical training hours depend on the course. For example, three-year courses require 3 000 hours in total, with a minimum of 900 hours of practical training and a minimum of 1 800 hours of school-based training. The first year of any BOL course at MBO Levels 2, 3 or 4 must comprise at least 700 school-based hours. This is to ensure that students get enough classroom instruction in their first year (European Commission, 2021[9]).

In 2019, approximately 46 000 full-time equivalent staff (FTEs) were employed in MBO, of which 57% are teaching and 38% are providing teaching support (Education Inspectorate, 2021[2]). According to a 2015 survey, more than 60% of MBO teachers are educated at professional bachelor level (HBO), while 25% are university-trained (WO). In the past few years the share of teachers with a higher qualification at HBO-master or university level has slowly increased, as in other parts of the education system (Regioplan, 2015[13]). Teachers cooperate in teams in which tasks are divided among team members, such as assessment, study guidance and career guidance. The extent to which these roles are implemented differs per school (Cedefop, 2019[14]). Among the teaching support staff in MBO are so-called “instructors” – those who teach vocational practice in MBO institutions under the responsibility of teachers or teaching teams.1

A large part of the influx of MBO teachers in the Netherlands come from the business community, rather than from teacher training (Ministry of OCW, 2020[15]) and about a third of MBO teachers work part-time2. Some of these part-time teachers may be combining their teaching job with a job in industry. One challenge is that these industry professionals hired as part-time teachers are often treated as a temporary replacement rather than an invited expert who will continue to bring added value to the VET sector (Koop-Spoor et al., 2020[16]).

Expenditure on MBO teaching staff has increased over the past 5 years, both in absolute and relative terms. In 2019, expenditure on MBO teaching staff grew by 3.5% to more than EUR 4 billion – representing almost three quarters of the total expenditure of the VET institutions. This increase is due to the increase in teaching staff – mainly at the lower level positions – and is approximately in line with the increase in the number of students.

In work placements in MBO, each student has a designated work supervisor (praktijkbegeleider), who is a member of staff of the host employer. They coach students during the apprenticeship or practice placement period and know educational requirements of the student. The work supervisor is also called a workplace trainer, specialist teacher or traineeship supervisor (and referred to below also as in-company trainer). During their work placement, students are also supported by a supervisor from the training centre (ROC supervisor, stagebegeleider). Throughout the student’s training, it is expected that a triangle of communication is established and maintained between the student, work supervisor and ROC supervisor (Casey, 2013[6]). A work-based learning protocol (BPV-protocol) has been developed to describe the role of the learners, training centres, companies and the SBB (see below) in work-based learning, including in its preparation and matching, participation/delivery, assessment and evaluation (SBB, 2021[17]). The protocol is evaluated at least every five years and updated when needed by the SBB partners.

More than half of the teachers in higher professional education (HBO) are university graduates and about one in ten has completed a PhD (Regioplan, 2015[13]).

Both upper secondary VET and higher professional education are governed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap, OCW). The Ministry is in charge of strategic planning and development, ensuring quality, and funding public institutions. However, VET delivery is decentralised and providers are relatively autonomous. They work within a broad legal framework and a national qualification structure but have freedom in shaping curricula and organising provision (Cedefop, 2016[10]). The Inspectorate of Education surveys whether VET institutions comply with national regulations and inspects teaching and exam quality. Social partners are also an important actor in VET. The Organisation for the Cooperation between VET and the Labour Market (SBB) represents all employers, employees and training providers. SBB is tasked with developing the qualification structure for secondary VET (including creating new and updating existing programmes), finding new placement providers, and monitoring the quality of the placement providers (see Box 5.2) (European Commission, 2021[9]; Education Inspectorate, 2021[2]).

Public MBO providers are regionally oriented and represented by the VET College Association (MBO Raad) (Box 5.1), while the Dutch Council for Training and Education (Nederlandse Raad voor Training en Opleiding, NRTO) represents private institutions that provide MBO.3 For HBO, the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (Vereniging Hogescholen) represents the government-funded providers. The association promotes the collective interests of the higher professional education sector, supports common activities of the colleges and acts as an employers’ organisation on behalf of its members. It negotiates labour conditions for the sector with the trade unions and signs collective labour agreements.

Total VET expenditure has been increasing in the past decade. In 2022, the Ministry of OCW foresees to spend about EUR 5 billion on MBO and adult education and EUR 4.5 billion on HBO (Ministry of OCW, 2020[18]; Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal, 2021[19]). A large part of the Ministry of OCW's funding goes directly to VET providers, but to a smaller extent also to municipalities, SBB and training companies, among others (Figure 5.2). The government covered about two thirds of all expenditure on MBO in 2020, with the remaining one third covered by companies and households –for example for costs of learning materials and employers’ time investment in training provision (Ministry of OCW, 2022[20]). The national government budget for HBO accounts for 69% of the total expenditure in HBO in 2019. The largest part of the total government expenditure in HBO goes to universities of applied sciences (UAS). In addition to funding from the government, UAS receive tuition fees from students and revenues from, among other things, contract research (Ministry of OCW, 2021[21]). Government funding is divided into funding for education and for design and development. 90% of the education component is divided among the institutions in proportion to the number of registered students and the number of degrees obtained, and approximately 10% is distributed on the basis of fixed amounts per institution.

Teachers and instructors in upper-secondary VET need to be “competent” for their role. Competence requirements for teaching staff, including secondary VET teachers as well as teachers in primary and general secondary education, are regulated in a ministerial regulation, as are the competency requirements for VET instructors. To be fully appointed as VET teacher, one needs to hold a regular teacher qualification or a teaching certificate for lateral entrants. Teachers who are in the process of obtaining the necessary qualification or certificate can be temporarily appointed. Qualification requirements to teach at HBO vary across institutions and trades.

For in-company trainers, no specific teaching or training qualification is required, nor is participation in dedicated training. However, in-company trainers must be vocationally qualified at least at the same level for which they are supervising work-based learning.

Upper secondary VET teachers must possess a teaching qualification to teach in VET (fully appointed), which can be a teaching qualification at bachelor or master level (referred to below as the “regular teacher qualification”) or a teaching certificate (in the case of “lateral entry” – which can be obtained while teaching) (Cedefop, 2019[14]). The 2017 Decree on Competence Requirements for Education Staff (Besluit Bekwaamheidseisen Onderwijspersoneel) regulates competence standards for teachers in primary, general and vocational secondary education (Ministerie van OCW, 2017[24]).4 When schools recruit new teachers, they have to fulfil these requirement (and schools may impose additional requirements). Teachers who do not fulfil all requirements need to be offered the possibility to close skills and knowledge gaps. The competences to perform teaching activities defined in the regulation include: i) subject-specific knowledge and skills; ii) subject-specific didactic competence (i.e. the ability to translate subject-specific knowledge and skills into learning materials and educational plans); and iii) pedagogical competence. The requirements that teachers in higher education should fulfil differ per educational institution and furthermore depend on the type of work a teacher does.

Two types of teaching qualifications exist for secondary education:

  • A ‘Grade one’ qualification (full qualification) qualifies teachers to teach all levels and orientations of secondary education.

  • A ‘Grade two’ qualification qualifies teachers to teach in the first three years of general secondary education and all the years of secondary VET (VMBO/MBO).

    The distinction between grade one and grade two is not relevant for entry into MBO teaching, as both are valid to be deemed competent and appointable in MBO.

The grade-two qualification courses are provided at HBO institutions and the grade-one qualification courses (predominantly) at universities. The entry requirements for teacher training leading to a grade-two teaching qualification are an upper secondary graduate certificate, for example, general upper-secondary education or MBO Level 4. Candidates over 21 years old who do not hold these certificates may take a special entrance examination for the teacher-training programme (European Commission, 2021[25]). The HBO courses are available for general subjects, art subjects, technical subjects and agricultural subjects. Students specialise in one subject and the course prepares them to meet the required standards of competence. The programmes leading to a grade one qualification delivered by universities are offered for university graduates with a (professional or academic) Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Students can take these programmes as a postgraduate training or begin while they are still undergraduates. Courses are available for all subjects in the secondary curriculum. Moreover, graduates from grade-two qualification courses can continue into an HBO master programme to qualify as grade one teachers.

It is possible to enter the VET teaching workforce through another path than the regular teacher qualification. ‘Lateral entry’ (zij-instromer) into the teaching profession allow individuals coming from another profession (or another subject) to teach in VET – provided that they complete a shortened teacher training within a certain period and are deemed suitable for the teaching profession. For various MBO programmes/specialisations no regular teacher qualifications exist, making lateral entry the only way into the profession. Lateral entry requires individuals to have competences equivalent to at least HBO-bachelor level. In this lateral entry route, one can combine teaching and teacher training or work in another profession (European Commission, 2021[25]; OECD, 2021[26]; Rijksoverheid, 2021[27]). There are two pathways for lateral entry:

  • Pedagogical didactic certificate (PDG) as second-degree teacher qualification (most common): To enter into the PDG pathway, a VET provider (i.e. the employer of the teacher-candidate) assesses the candidate’s suitability to the profession, and his or her capability to obtain the PDG within 2 years. Proven competent, the candidate can teach in temporary employment on the condition of obtaining the PDG within 2 years. After obtaining the PDG, the teacher can take up permanent employment (fully appointed), but only in MBO (see more details in Box 5.3).

  • Certificate of Competency as first or second-degree teacher qualification: Before hiring a candidate without qualified teacher status, a VET provider requests a suitability test from a teacher training college to examine the candidate’s suitability for the profession, capability to obtain a certificate within 2 years, and training needs. If assessed suitable, the candidate then receives a suitability statement from the teacher training college and follows the recommended teacher training course (one may get an exemption for certain components). The candidate can teach and follow the training, with the VET institution’s guidance. Within 2 years, s/he completes an aptitude test to receive a Certificate of Competency. This pathway is used more for general education subjects than for vocational subjects.

Industry professionals hired through PDG route are generally well regarded and considered as key players in VET, especially to bring in industry expertise and to prepare teachers for those VET programmes for which no dedicated regular teacher qualification exists (Regioplan/ECBO/ROA, 2021[28]).

Industry professionals can also teach as hybrid teachers, also known as guest teacher or secondee, in secondary education. These hybrid teachers teach a number of hours a week in addition to their current profession, with no requirement to obtain a teaching certificate, suitability statement or PDG. These teachers with specific expertise or knowledge are under the supervision of a qualified teacher. Teaching more than 6 hours a week per year on average requires an authorisation or the PDG certificate within 2 years. This type of hybrid teaching is mostly used for VET, as stricter rules apply in general education (OECD, 2021[26]).

As described above, instructors are part of the teaching support staff in MBO, and teach vocational practice – under the responsibility of a VET teacher or a teaching team. VET instructors need to fulfil the competency requirements for their role (regulated by the Decree on Competence Requirements for Education5, see above), in terms of subject-specific skills and knowledge, as well as pedagogical and didactic competencies. The MBO institution that hires the instructor assesses the competency –i.e. subject-specific skills and knowledge on the basis of education and work experience background (at least at the same level of the MBO programme the instructor will be working in), and pedagogical and didactic skills on the basis of dedicated training programmes (Onderwijsloket, 2022[29]). The didactical and pedagogical training are offered at MBO Level 4 and at the associate degree level. To participate in the MBO Level 4 programme one needs to have relevant work experience and at least an MBO Level 3 qualification, while for the associate degree programmes completed general upper-secondary or MBO Level 4 is required6. Lateral entry is also possible for instructors, in this case they are hired immediately as instructor while being granted two years to obtain the necessary pedagogical/didactic qualification (ditismbo.nl, n.d.[30]).

There are no nationally-determined qualification requirements for teachers in higher education. Therefore, qualification requirements to teach in HBO programmes may vary across HBO providers. Typically, in order to become an HBO teacher, candidates need to be an experienced craftsperson and preferably have a Master’s degree in the relevant subject and some pedagogical competences. While the Master’s degree and the pedagogical competences are not mandatory at the time of applying for an HBO teaching position, HBO providers usually support their teaching staff in acquiring the desired qualifications. Typically, a Basic Teaching Competence Qualification (Basiskwalificatie Didactische Bekwaamheid, BDB), a certificate awarded by HBO providers, must be acquired within the first year of teaching unless the candidate has previously obtained another teaching qualification recognised by the provider. Most providers offer BDB programmes, and this programme includes an examination for obtaining the Basic Examination Qualification (Basis Kwalificatie Examinering, BKE), which allows teachers to act as examiners in higher education. The Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (Vereniging Hogescholen) has defined the requirements for a BDB programme, based on which most HBOs have developed their own BDB programmes. This means that any BDB qualification can be recognised by any HBO provider (ZESTOR, n.d.[31]; Zestor, 2021[32]).

All companies in the Netherlands offering work placements (both in apprenticeship and school-based programmes) have to be accredited by the Organisation for the Cooperation between VET and the Labour Market (SBB) and the accreditation has to be renewed every four years (ECBO, 2016[33]). Without being accredited employers cannot train new entrants or existing staff via apprenticeships or work placements that are publicly funded; nor can they access the financial incentives on offer to do this (Casey, 2013[6]). In order to offer work-based learning, the company has to agree to co-operate with the VET school and in-company trainers have to contact the school on a regular basis (ECBO, 2014[34]; Smulders, Cox and Westerhuis, 2016[35]). One of the criteria for accreditation is the availability of a competent in-company trainer (praktijkopleider).

In general, no formal specific teaching or training qualification is required to become an in-company trainer responsible for work-based learning, nor is participation in dedicated training - although certain sectors do impose such requirements. For example, trainers are required to have a recognised diploma, certificate or experience at least equivalent to the student's training in sectors such as food, green and hospitality; mobility, transportation, logistics and maritime. In general, in-company trainers are expected to have at least several years of experience and have set of competences that enables them to effectively guide learners (see Box 5.4). In some sectors, such competences need to be validated by diplomas or certificates. For example, the commercial service and safety sectors require trainers to have (partly) acquired their coaching and assessment competences by following a training course developed and provided for the sector (SBB, 2021[36]). SBB offers a list of qualifications that trainers can have in order to meet such requirements (SBB, 2021[37]).

Initial teacher education and training (ITET) for prospective MBO teachers is delivered by universities and universities of applied sciences. Students either go through a regular teacher training in a specific VET field, combining subject matter and pedagogy, or they follow a shorter teaching programme (for lateral entrants) focused on pedagogy and didactics after having obtained a tertiary qualification in a VET field and/or after years of work experience. For instructors in MBO the training is focused on pedagogy and didactics, at MBO Level 4 or associate degree level, as they already have relevant education and work background. Candidate HBO teachers generally do not need to have a teaching qualification when applying for an HBO teaching position, but they usually have to acquire a Basic Teaching Competence Qualification (BDB) within their first year of teaching. For in-company trainers, specific training is not required by law, but SBB and various other providers offers free training courses to support in-company trainers.

Initial teacher training for MBO teachers in the Netherlands is part of higher education and is organised in a similar way as for general education teachers. A regular teacher-training programme at the HBO bachelor level takes about 4 years to complete. University and HBO graduates from non-teaching fields (at bachelor level) can also attend a one-year, add-on fast-track teacher-training course which leads to a teaching qualification. Moreover, it is also possible to obtain a teaching qualification at the master level. These master-level teaching qualifications are “grade one” qualifications, but as described above the distinction between grades is not relevant for VET teachers. Teacher-training courses can be either full- or part-time, and may be combined with working. In addition, the training component of the PDG trajectory is also a part of teacher training but separate from the regular teacher training pathways. Likewise, instructors have dedicated training programmes to develop their didactical and pedagogical skills – lasting one or two years.

For HBO teachers requirements differ between institutions and fields, although they are required to obtain the Basic Teaching Competence Qualification (BDB) within their first year of teaching. Most institutions have their own BDB programme, taking 3 to 18 months to complete.

Tertiary education institutions provide full-time, part-time and dual (i.e. work-study) training courses for aspiring MBO teachers (Regioplan/ECBO/ROA, 2021[28]):

  • HBO-level teacher training courses for secondary school teachers (including MBO programmes) are delivered by universities of applied sciences (leading to grade two qualification). Courses are available in general subjects, arts subjects, technical subjects and agricultural subjects. Students specialise in one subject, and the courses prepare them to meet the statutory standards of competence to become a teacher. HBO-level teacher training courses cover both subject-related and general teacher training (European Commission, 2020[38]). A HBO bachelor-level teacher training course lasts at least four years and the duration of a shortened part-time training can vary depending on the structure of the training, the knowledge and experience of a part-time student and the exemptions obtained. The HBO teaching programme at master level – which is typically a continuation from the bachelor programme for those who want to have a grade one teaching qualification- lasts between two and three years. As Figure 5.4 shows, teaching is a popular programme among HBO students.

  • University-based teacher training courses: University graduates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree can take a postgraduate teacher training course leading to a grade one qualification in the field of their bachelor/master degree. Students can also begin, and, if they wish, complete their teacher training while they are still undergraduates. The part-time, full-time and dual options all have a study load of 60 ECTS credits (equivalent to one year’s full-time study) for student who already have a master’s degree and 120 ECTS for those with only a bachelor’s degree (European Commission, 2020[38]). The programmes focus on didactics and in case of the two-year programme also on deepening of subject knowledge.

  • Add-on teacher training course (kopopleiding): Graduates from an academic or professional bachelor programme in non-teaching fields can enrol in add-on training to become a grade two teacher in the field of their bachelor studies. The course targets individuals who wish to become a VET teacher in the subject area in which they already hold a bachelor’s degree. This add-on programme lasts one year and in provided by universities of applied sciences. It focuses on developing pedagogical skills.

  • PDG programme for lateral entrants: See Box 5.5 for details about the PDG programme that prepares industry professional for VET teaching through a 2-year programme focused on pedagogy and didactics. These programmes are delivered by universities of applied sciences.

Instructors in MBO can develop their pedagogical and didactic competences through two types of programmes:

  • MBO Level 4 programme for MBO instructors: Individuals who have several years of work experience and at least a MBO Level 3 qualification can enrol in the one-year MBO Level 4 training for instructors. The programme is provided by MBO institutions as an apprenticeship or school-based track. It focusses on didactics and pedagogy, but also includes foundational skills.

  • Associate degree programme for educational professionals or support staff in VET: Individuals who have at least a MBO Level 4 or general upper-secondary qualification can participate in a 2-year associate degree programme provided by universities of applied sciences. It focuses on pedagogical and didactical competencies, as well as subject-specific skills and knowledge.

While the Decree on Competence Requirements for Education Staff (see above), describes the competences that MBO teachers should hold, providers have freedom to design the teacher training curriculum within this framework. As the providers – institutions for higher professional education or universities – are responsible for curriculum development and assessment of teacher training courses, curricula vary by provider. Various curricula, learning environments and student progress measurements exist even for programmes related to the same profession. The providers may choose their teaching methods (e.g. lectures, seminars, etc.).

Teaching practice is an important component of teacher and instructor training in the Netherlands. Regular secondary school teacher training courses offer a combined period of work and study in the final year. Students receive practical training in the area in which they intend to teach. This is a compulsory part of the course. Students can be employed part time in a school under a training and employment contract for a limited period (equivalent to no more than five months’ full time), provided the school has a vacancy. The trainee teacher (LIO) does everything a regular member of teaching staff would do, including speaking to parents at parent evenings and discussing reports. The level of supervision is minimal. This makes the transition from student to teacher less abrupt and the teacher training institutions are better able to keep abreast of current developments in education. Details about the period of teaching practice must be set out in the institution’s teaching and examination regulations (European Commission, 2020[38]). Among students in HBO programmes, those who follow teacher training spend more time on internship than those in other programmes (Figure 5.5). Also in the instructor training programmes practical learning is an essential component, both in the MBO Level 4 programme and the associate degree programme.

VET teacher education and training is part of higher education, which is partially publicly funded. General student grants or allowance for study costs may be available, as well as schemes specifically targeted at students in teacher training programmes (Rijksoverheid, 2021[41]):

  • 50% reduction in tuition fees for first two years of teacher training: Students in bachelor-level teacher training programmes (primary, general and vocational secondary education) get a 50% reduction in tuition fees for the first two years of their training. For other tertiary programmes (outside of teaching) the reduction only applies in the first year. The fee reduction only applies to first-time entrants into tertiary education.

  • Year extra student grant for potential teachers: Those who completed a higher professional education or university education and follow teacher training afterwards may be eligible for an extra year of student finance. This is intended for a university teacher training course or a add-on teacher training course.

  • Allowance for study costs of teacher training for lateral entrants: VET institutions that hire a teacher via lateral entry can apply for a lateral-entry subsidy to assist obtaining a teaching qualification within 2 years. The subsidy is intended as a contribution towards the costs of suitability examination, training, supervision and paid teacher training time. The subsidy scheme for the employer (school board) is of a maximum of EUR 20 000 per application (Regioplan/ECBO/ROA, 2021[28]).7 See also Box 5.5.

  • Teacher grant: For qualified teachers, a teacher grant is available to pursue a bachelor's or master's degree and professional development.

  • Tax deduction for teachers' study costs: Those who are not entitled to a student grant or an allowance may be able to deduct the costs of the studies from their tax.

Full-time students enrolled for a duration of at least one year in higher professional education are eligible for national student finance comprising a tuition fee loan, a regular loan, a student travel product, and a supplementary grant (OCW 2021c).

Given that the curriculum and teaching methods differ across the teacher training providers, quality assurance is important to ensure coherence and minimum quality. There are several mechanisms to ensure the quality of teacher education and training and coherence in course requirements and instruction methods in different programmes. In principle, each institution of higher professional education or university has internal self-evaluation mechanisms for the quality of teacher education and training courses. Also, in order to ensure a degree of coherence across different providers, these institutions can share information on the requirements for teachers and may instruct them about the way education is taught at a specific university (Regioplan/ECBO/ROA, 2021[28]). The Dutch-Flemish accreditation body (NVAO) also accredits the HBO programmes to ensure that programmes incorporate the latest developments in disciplines and professions (Cedefop, 2016[4]).8

While candidate teachers do not need to have a teaching qualification when applying for an HBO teaching position, they usually have to acquire a Basic Teaching Competence Qualification (BDB) within their first year of teaching. Those who already obtained a teaching qualification before starting their position, may be exempted from the BDB programme if the institution at which they are employed recognises their teaching qualification. The Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (Vereniging Hogescholen) has defined the requirements for a BDB programme, based on which most HBOs have developed their own BDB programmes. Most institutions have their own BDB programme and have to recognise the BDB programmes of other institution. Depending on the institution, the programme takes 3 to 18 months to complete, yet the most common duration is between 6 and 12 months. Institutions support their teachers financially and give them the necessary time to complete the BDB programme. Most providers are quite flexible and offer customisable programmes. Zestor, an HBO labour market and training fund, provides an overview of the various BDB programmes (Zestor, 2021[32]).

As an example, the BDB programme at Hogeschool Leiden includes courses for teaching, supervising students, designing education, examinations and professional teaching. This programme lasts about 8 months, including 560 hours of workplace learning. It aims at HBO teachers who are not yet in possession of a didactic qualification. It costs EUR 3 625 (Hogeschool Leiden, 2022[42]). There are also sector-specific courses for HBO teachers (see below for the available ITET for HBO teachers and trainers in the healthcare and welfare sector).

There is no specific training or training qualification required for in-company trainers (although some branches may impose certain requirements). Nonetheless, SBB offers free training courses and support for in-company trainers. These courses are not a replacement for qualification requirements (e.g. specialist teacher diploma) that may apply in some branches.

SBB courses provide a mix of theory and practical tips for the practical trainer. Online and offline tools include (SBB, 2021[43]):

  • E-learning to learn about supervising MBO students.

  • Webinars developed in collaboration with the Institute for Human Rights to learn about 'offering equal opportunities in MBO' and 'the trainee of today'.

  • Quality talks to discuss practical learning with SBB advisors on how the work placement company can develop further, including specific advice about the professional and personal guidance, safety, work and the organisation of the learning process.

  • Workshops aimed at beginner practical trainers to learn about getting acquainted, motivating, giving instruction and feedback or conducting counselling interviews and development-oriented assessment. These workshops last one to four hours depending on the module.

  • Knowledge base, an online portal that provides comprehensive advice, information and guidance for trainers.

In the healthcare and welfare sector, several optional training courses are available for trainers. These courses can lead to an ISCED Level 6 qualification. For example, Breederode University of Applied Sciences offers courses designed to train guidance and coaching skills and provide pedagogy and didactic modules. This training mainly aims for nurses with a training function (at either MBO or HBO Levels) but the programme is also accessible to other professionals in health care and welfare who want to increase their experience in the field of guidance and coaching of students. The training programme include a minimum of 8 practical learning hours per week as a practical trainer and an average study load of 8-10 hours per week to total 452 hours. It can be customised for an individual company as an in-company training programme. Entry requires a bachelor's degree in the sector or an MBO 4 diploma in the sector if passing an HBO assessment from the university (Breederode Hogeschool, 2022[44]). Other institutions, such as ROC Amsterdam, ROC Midden Nederland and Hogeschool Leiden, also offer trainer training programmes for experienced professionals in the healthcare and welfare sector (usually one-year part-time programme) (V&VN, 2022[45]).


[44] Breederode Hogeschool (2022), Practice trainer / Practice supervisor in Healthcare & Welfare, https://www.breederode.nl/opleiding/23/praktijkopleider-praktijkbegeleider-in-gezondheidszorg-welzijn.

[6] Casey, P. (2013), The VET system in the Netherlands, UKCES, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/303481/briefing-paper-vocational-education-system-netherlands.pdf.

[8] CBS (2021), Statline - School size by type of education and ideological basis, http://opendata.cbs.nl/statline/#/CBS/en/dataset/03753eng/table?ts=1639496589264.

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[3] European Commission (2021), Post-secondary non-tertiary education in the Netherlands, https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/post-secondary-non-tertiary-education-15_en.

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[12] European Commission (2018), Types of Higher Education Institutions, https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/types-higher-education-institutions-53_en.

[42] Hogeschool Leiden (2022), Basic Qualification Didactic Competence (BDB), https://www.hsleiden.nl/nascholingen/onderwijs-en-innovatie/basiskwalificatie-didactische-bekwaamheid-bdb/index.htm.

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[19] Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal (2021), Vaststelling van de begrotingsstaten van het Ministerie van Onderwijs, Cultuur en Wetenschap voor het jaar 2022.

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← 1. In some aspects of teaching and training instructors can only play a supporting role, e.g. in assessment.

← 2. Less than 0.8 FTE.

← 3. The Dutch Council for Training and Education (Nederlandse Raad voor Training en Opleiding, NRTO) also represents private providers of secondary and higher education.

← 4. The decree is an update of the 2006 competence requirements.

← 5. The requirements for MBO instructors were added to the decree in 2018.

← 6. Those older than 20 without MBO 4 or general upper-secondary can also enrol after passing a competency test.

← 7. Subsidy scheme for lateral entry. Regulations of the State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science of 3 April 2017, no. VO/ 1091439. This arrangement has been adjusted as of 24-2-2021 (see https://wetten.overheid.nl/BWBR0039459/2021-02-24).

← 8. This accreditation also applies to university programmes.

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