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Thematic Network Work-based Learning and Apprenticeships (NetWBL

NetWBL is a network of 29 European national agencies on the subject "Work-based Learning" , coordinated by the German National Agency at BIBB. NetWBL is funded by the European Commission, Directorate General Education and Culture (DG EAC).

What is WBL?

The network's understanding of work based learning is broader than only apprenticeship: acquisition of knowledge and skills through carrying out and reflecting on tasks in a vocational context, either at the workplace (such as alternance training) or in a VET institution. It includes WBL in Higher Education and also developments to include WBL in school-based training.


The contribution of work-based learning to supporting youth employment and economic competitiveness is widely recognised. Countries with strong and attractive Vocational Education and Training (VET) systems, and notably those with well-established apprenticeship systems, tend to perform better in terms of youth employment.

European Alliance for Apprenticeships

The European Alliance for Apprenticeships was launched in Leipzig on 2 July 2013. On 15 October 2013 the Council of the European Union adopted the Declaration on the European Alliance for Apprenticeships. As one of the key elements Member States declare that, where appropriate, they will "[…] undertake VET system reforms, in cooperation with social partners and other relevant stakeholders, by introducing an apprenticeship pathway or improving existing schemes ,[…], in order to increase the number, quality and attractiveness of apprenticeships."


NetWBL aims to strengthen work-based learning (WBL) elements in existing Vocational Education and Training (VET) systems and Higher Education (HE) and to support apprenticeship in particular.

The network addresses the key actors involved in WBL in each European country taking into account the different VET and Higher Education systems and legisatlive regulations. Furthermore, the network supports the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA).


NetWBL will make visible the results of Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP) projects on work-based learning and will support VET reforms by providing an on-line toolbox for use by policy makers, social partners and VET providers. At the same time, it will identify gaps which could usefully be filled by new products developed by Erasmus+, the new EU programme in the fields of education, training, youth and sport.

The Network will support the implementation in practices of WBL by:

  • offering tools and good practices developed in LLP and in future Erasmus+
  • identifying the “transferable core” of project outcomes focusing on WBL
  • identifying gaps and needs for future projects
  • supporting the development of the communities of practices
  • facilitating the transfer of good practice
  • improving the quality of project implementation through monitoring and peer learning.


European Monitoring Conference "Work-based Learning and Apprenticeships"
11-12 February 2014, Brussels

The European monitoring conference marks one important milestone towards making WBL related LLP project results visible. The conference aimed to improve the exchange of information and knowledge across national boundaries. Learning lessons emerging from projects made it easier to mainstream results and findings into national and European policies on education and training.

At the same time, the conference acted as the official launch event of NetWBL. Over one and a half day, the event offered an opportunity to

  • learn from good practices demonstrated across the EU
  • disseminate the results of successful projects and programmes
  • meet peers and share what works and what doesn’t
  • identify synergies and ways of  working together to help in future work
  • meet and network with relevant stakeholders in the field
  • be part of a key EU policy development.


One of the results of the monitoring conference is the evaluation study "Intermediate report on work-based learning needs and gaps” produced by the network partners.

The projects valorized at the monitoring conference were discussed and analysed in terms of the needs and gaps, which have not yet been adequately addressed so far by the PLL projects. Possible future areas and open challenges in terms of WBL were identified so that they can be addressed in the new Erasmus+.

Three key recommendations are listed here: firstly, it requires greater participation of enterprises, especially SMEs, to develop work-based learning elements to improve the interface between education and work. Second, the development in Europe of common standards in the education and training of educational staff in relation to WBL is necessary. And third, the need for more knowledge management to training in vocational training, occupational profiles as well as national career guidance activities was observed.

WBL Toolkit

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Ulrike Engels
Tel.: +49 (0)228 107-1610

Claudia Hamann
Tel.: +49 (0)228 107-1545

Ulrike Jahn
Tel.: +49 (0)228 107-1639

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The NetWBL project is funded by the European Commission, DG Education and Culture. This website reflects the views of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.