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"What are the challenges with dual learning in Brussels? We had a conversation with TRI in the Nethe

"A job in the green sector holds invaluable significance in today's context. According to LinkedIn's Global Green Skills Report 2022, the percentage of people possessing the necessary knowledge and skills to support environmental sustainability has risen from 9.6% in 2015 to 13.3% in 2022. However, companies don't always find these individuals easily, and job seekers encounter obstacles in finding such positions.

For young people, traditional education often lacks practical experience, and career changers may not receive sufficient support when transitioning into a green career. In the Netherlands, TRI has found a solution to this problem. The central mission of this organization is to connect aspiring horticulturists with leading training companies in the green sector through the 'dual learning' model. A similar model is employed in Belgium, where students alternately acquire skills in a company and an educational institution, provided that the educational institution offers this model and the student is younger than 25.

However, in recent years, this model has proven to be less successful in the Brussels Region, with only 86 enrollments in the 2021-2022 school year, in contrast to the 300 students and 330 companies affiliated with TRI. Furthermore, enrollments at TRI only represent the green sector, while in the Brussels Region, three parties are involved in this learning system (the student, the school, and the company), whereas in the Netherlands, a fourth party, such as TRI, makes the difference.

How does TRI work?

TRI acts as a mediator between companies, students or career changers, and schools. It not only opens doors for young people but also provides career changers with guidance from experts to find a job in the green sector. For the latter group, TRI organizes evening courses, allowing adults in the field to transition into their dream job.

Students and career changers can register through TRI's website and receive guidance in finding an education program they can combine with suitable work. This means they work at a company four days a week and spend one day a week at school, a model that applies to all regions in the Netherlands. TRI supports those enrolled throughout the entire journey and helps them transition to a higher level. "As much as 95% of the people who start working through TRI remain with the companies," says Jan Clement of TRI. Therefore, success through TRI is long-lasting, making it essential to explore best practices that can inspire Brussels.

Dual learning also seems to be successful in Germany and Switzerland, but what is the stumbling block for us? One of the primary causes is the administrative burden companies face when participating in this education system. This includes creating training plans, aligning the curriculum with the company's schedule, tracking student progress, and reporting it. This is particularly time-consuming for smaller companies. Although offering a premium for each enrolled student, as recently announced by the Flemish government, may incentivize companies to participate in dual learning in the short term, it doesn't address the issue structurally.

Peter Loyens of the Belgian company Krinkels also mentioned in a previous article that they are open to dual learning, but the system struggles to gain traction because it's not the sector itself that has control over it.

To make the program work in the long run, it is crucial to find solutions that simplify the administrative process and streamline collaboration among the various parties. A sector-specific entity, such as TRI in the green sector, which takes on the coordination of administration and student support, could be one of those solutions."

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