In primary and secondary education, the ‘Centra voor Leerlingbegeleiding’ (CLBs) are pupil guidance centres offering services for pupils in compulsory education, their parents, their teachers and other school professionals. Schools are responsible for (education) career guidance and CLBs provide them with support when requested, e.g. through information provision on the educational landscape or the provision of (study) career guidance tools. Pupils enrolled in the ‘Leertijd’ system at SYNTRA Vlaanderen – the Flemish Agency for Entrepreneur Training – combine education and on the job training. They can also avail of CLB services, and so can their parents, mentors and teachers.

The Flemish institutions for higher education are responsible for student guidance and orientation, which has led to various guidance approaches and practices.

Lifelong guidance in formal adult education is the responsibility of the adult education centres (CVOs) and centres for basic education (CBEs), who offer a variety of learner guidance and orientation services – including study support and career counselling. In each province adults can consult learning career counsellors for advice and guidance on learning opportunities, usually through a leerwinkel (‘learning shop’). Lifelong guidance is also seen in non-formal adult education, where several socio-cultural organisations initiate lifelong guidance projects and activities.

Flemish Public Employment Service, VDAB, connects jobseekers with employers and is committed to supporting every jobseeker in the search of a matching job (social function). The agency aims to be a reliable partner in HR policy and supports job vacancies to be filled as quickly and efficiently as possible (economic function). To meet these goals, VDAB offers job placement, training and education, career guidance and outplacement. Actiris provides similar services in the Brussels Capital Region, with a focus on qualitative guidance for the unemployed looking for qualitative and sustainable work.

VDAB also quality monitors the recognized career guidance centres for people in (self-)employment. Career guidance for adults is also provided through other organisations, such as GTB, which is for people experiencing thresholds to enter the labour market, e.g. persons with severe (mental) health problems. Integration pathways for newcomers are coordinated and facilitated by the Agencies for Integration and Citizenship. They coordinate and facilitate integration pathways for newcomers.  Also, several youth organisations offer guidance services, often aiming at specific target groups such as young people at risk of early school leaving or for young people in a NEET situation.


Within the Education & Training policy domain, lifelong guidance is organised differently according to education/training level. The new decrees ‘Reform of the Pupil Guidance System’ (into effect on 1/9/'18) and 'Modernisation of Secondary Education' (into effect on 1/9/'19) lead to structural changes within CLB centres and schools. Every school's policy should now include an integrated policy plan for pupil guidance, covering 4 domains: educational guidance, learning and studying, psychological and social functioning, and preventative healthcare.                                                                                                                   

In adult education and training, a blueprint for ‘Learning Career Guidance’ (Leerloopbaanbegeleiding) in Flanders was developed as a result of Project GOAL! - a KA3 Erasmus+ project supporting policy reform. The blueprint was published at the start of 2018. In 2022, 

The Flemish Ministry of Work and Social Economy sets out policies related to work and social economy, including competence policy and career policy. Flemish Public Employment Service, VDAB, directs the main guidance services in relation to employment – including those aimed at specific target groups such as early school leavers and newcomers. VDAB is also responsible for the quality assurance of the ‘career guidance’ system for employees, which is provided through many non-profit, sectoral and private organisations.

The Flemish Ministry of Chancellery and Administration is responsible for the Agency for Community Integration, which contributes to the aims of the Flemish integration policy. The Agency cooperates closely with local administrations and other relevant policy domains.

To a certain extent lifelong guidance is also a matter of policy domain Culture, Youth, Sports and Media. Several youth organisations provide guidance services, often aiming at specific target groups. In the socio-cultural work sector, guidance services are offered by several organisations.


CLB centers work complementary to what schools (or Syntra Leertijd Centres) provide. Every school and Syntra Leertijd Centre has got a policy contract or policy plan with their specific CLB to formalize the partnership. CLB services focus on 4 areas:

  1. Learning & studying: reading/ speech/writing, intelligence, fear of failure, learning difficulties, …
  2. (Educational) career: monitoring of compulsory education, study-choice guidance, learning pathway guidance, provision of information on the education system and the labour market, special needs education (e.g. certificates), training in working with guidance tools
  3. Preventive health care: medical check-ups, vaccinations, follow-up of contagious conditions, information on nutrition / substance abuse / mental health issues ….
  4. Socio-emotional development: behavioural problems, bullying, social skills, emotional problems.

Every CLB places the pupils’ interest at the heart of any action taken. Its activities aim to optimize pupils’ wellbeing and functioning within the school environment. CLB teams are multidisciplinary (doctors, social workers, psychologists, assistant psychologists, nurses, intercultural consultants, …). In 2018-19, 265.000 pupils (22.17% of the total pupil population) asked the CLB for information and/or advice. Around 1 in 10 pupils ask their CLB one or more questions in relation to their study or learning pathway. 

A result of collaboration between CLB umbrellas, Onderwijskiezer.be offers a fully integrated service linking learning opportunities, professions and labour market information. The website offers links to guidance tools (e.g. self-assessments) and information for guidance counsellors. A team of CLB counsellors ensures updates on a continuous basis and in cooperation with external partners, such as the VDAB and the Ministry for Education and Training. In 2018-19, Onderwijskiezer attracted over 2.000.000 unique visitors (over 20% increase compared to 2017-18) and received 1.335 questions through the online chatmodule. 

Since 2017, schools have worked with the new study guidance tool Columbus. The exploration instrument was developed for young people in their final year of Flemish secondary education who are considering further education. It provides them with an insight in their study choice process and strengthens this process by mapping their interests, knowledge and skills. It helps young people focus on the way in which they will choose (‘how’), rather than being focused on making the final choice (‘what’).

All pupil guidance centres (regardless of the education network they are part of) are cooperating on the online advice and support service CLB Chat. Launched in 2016, CLB Chat is an online service initiated and managed by the pupil guidance centre umbrellas. Pupils can remain anonymous and most users choose to do so. A total of 5.465 chats were registered during 2018-19, which is an increase of 25% compared to '17-18. Most chats (90,87 %) are with pupils, but also the chats with parents are increasing (9,13 %). Study choice guidance or education career guidance was provided in 12% of chats with pupils and in 27% of chats with parents. 

Higher Education institutions offer lifelong guidance through educational guidance services as well as career services for students and alumni. Some institutions have a career office and/or provide an exchange platform or chat service. Students who did not finish their first year in HE with success can still contact the CLB (centre for pupil guidance) of the former secondary school for guidance purposes.

Adult education centres (CVOs) and centres for basic education (CBEs) offer a variety of learner guidance and orientation services, including study support AND career counselling. Also, several socio-cultural organisations initiate lifelong guidance projects and activities. In each province adults can consult learning career counsellors for advice and guidance on learning opportunities, usually through a leerwinkel (‘learning shop’). In the province of East-Flanders, for example, young people and adults in their search for education or training can receive guidance at De Stap - a partnership between the CLB centres in the city of Ghent.

VDAB offers job placement, training and education, career guidance and outplacement. For job seekers, VDAB offers job guidance through 1) Diagnosis and setting, 2) Application training and guidance, 3) Training at a centre, 4) Personal development, 5) Labour-market guidance, 6) On-the-job training and support, 7) Guidance towards work and further follow-up of the job seeker’s progress. VDAB offers guidance for specific target groups including 55+, people with special needs or employment disabilities, disadvantaged people, newly graduates, and non-Dutch speakers. In the Brussels Capital Region, Actiris provides career guidance services with a focus on qualitative guidance for the unemployed looking for qualitative and sustainable work.

VDAB aims to provide self-supporting instruments so citizens can take their careers into their own hands. It offers an online system “Mijn loopbaan” - “My career", which allows citizens to make a fully personalised online portfolio. This portfolio allows them to keep track of their competences, create their CV and upload it to an online platform used by employers. The system is connected to the job vacancy database and uses sophisticated matching techniques (e.g. based on competences). “Mijn loopbaan” can also be used for lifelong learning as it lists many training opportunities.

Career guidance for people in (self-)employment is offered through recognized career guidance centres monitored by VDAB. These centres are not linked to the employer(s) and it is up to the individual to decide when and where the citizen in employment to engage in this type of career guidance. Each centre uses the Personal Development Plan (POP) in the career guidance process. This compulsory POP allows a citizen to detect the gap between his/her competency profile and the desired profile. A development action plan is written up.

Referral of refugees and newcomers to VDAB mainly happens through its partners: Public Centres for Social Welfare (OCMW’s), Flemish Agency for Integration, the shelters and local reception initiatives. VDAB has developed several communication campaigns to inform refugees and newcomers directly about its services. One communication campaign (2016) involved several tools developed by VDAB to meet the needs of the target group. To guide refugees and newcomers towards the labour market, partner organisations can use information through the VDAB website, online videos on VDAB services (available in 7 languages), flyers in different languages, and appointment cards.

VDAB also offers E-coaching for job seekers looking for career guidance via telephone conversations or video chats, as well as a specific job training chat service which is available during office hours.

Career guidance for adults is also provided through other organisations, such as GTB, which is a service for people experiencing thresholds to enter the labour market, e.g. persons with severe (mental) health problems. 

Integration pathways for newcomers are coordinated and facilitated by the Agencies for Integration and Citizenship. They coordinate and facilitate integration pathways for newcomers. These pathways usually include courses in social orientation, Dutch and pathway guidance for newcomers.

Several youth organisations offer guidance services, often aimed at specific target groups such as young people at risk of early school leaving (e.g. Arktos vzw-NAFT guidance) or for young people in a NEET situation in partnership with VDAB (e.g. JES vzw).


Training opportunities for (future) lifelong guidance practitioners include:

- Professional BA Applied Psychology: Clinical Psychology / School Psychology (Hogeschool Vives, Thomas More), 180 credits

- MA Psychology: Education (Ghent University), 120 credits

- MA School Psychology (KU Leuven), 120 credits

- MA Psychology / Education (VUB), 120 credits

- Postgraduate Certificate Study Career Guidance (PXL Hogeschool), 20 credits

- Postgraduate Certificate Study and Student Guidance (UC Leuven Limburg), 20 credits

- Certificate Career Coach (SYNTRA), 24hrs

Dutch is the predominant teaching/lecturing language.

Career counsellors working in VDAB or one of the recognized career guidance centres have a variety of backgrounds, including organisational psychology or social work (BA or MA level).

More information on higher education opportunities can be found on www.highereducation.be (English) or on www.onderwijskiezer.be (Dutch).

In CLBs (pupil guidance centres - linked to schools), each full-time member of staff is entitled to a certain number of professional development days per school year as determined by the Flemish government. Every new member of CLB staff has to follow an induction training organised by the CLB-umbrella organisation. 


- The CLBs (centres for pupil guidance) developed a deontological code that applies to each CLB staff member. The code was approved in 2011 by the 4 CLB umbrellas (GO! CLB, VCLB, OVSG, POV). Its articles are divided in 4 categories : a) Service and support role: how to reflect and act in relation to clients, b) Self-management role: how to reflect and act in relation oneself,  c) collaboration role: how to reflect and act in relation to colleagues within the CLB centre, and d) policy role: how to reflect and act as a CLB centre and society member. The full code is available on www.onderwijs.vlaanderen.be/nl/deontologische-code-en-mission-statement)

- For psychologists working as guidance practitioners, the Commission of Psychologists has issued a deontological code for Belgian psychologists. The code has been in effect since May 2014. For the Dutch English version, please consult www.compsy.be/en/ethics-legislation

- Career counsellors usually have a deontological code to follow, whether they are working in higher or adult education, recognized career guidance centres, employers, … Examples are:

  • www.vdab.be/loopbaanbegeleiding (in Dutch)
  • Deontological Code Career Center KULeuven: www.kuleuven.be/personeel/careercenter/pdfs/3-deontologische-code-en.pdf (in Dutch)


1. Policy relevant research (Department of Education and Training)

Policy relevant research gathers all types of research resulting from questions which are highly relevant to educational policies. It aims to prepare, to implement, to evaluate and to adjust educational policies and practices. The five categories are:

- Preparatory Policy Research

- Policy Evaluation Research

- Research Assignments and Legal Research

- OBPWO-research (fading out)

- Research carried out by previous support centres in policy relevant research  

For more information: www.onderwijs.vlaanderen.be/nl/beleidsrelevant-onderzoek (Dutch)

The Department of Education and Training, section Strategic Policy Support formulates strategic policy options. To meet this purpose, it detects:

  • Relevant developments and trends in society
  • Evolutions in the field of international educational policy
  • Innovations in relevant scientific disciplines

For more information: www.onderwijs.vlaanderen.be/nl/afdeling-strategische-beleidsondersteuning

2. Support Centre for Educational Research (Steunpunt voor Onderwijsonderzoek - SONO)

SONO was recognised by the Flemish Government as the Support Centre for Policy Relevant Research in 2016-2020. SONO carried out policy relevant research to inform the Flemish Government and its partners on strategic choices in educational policy. SONO was a collaboration between University of Ghent, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Universiteit Antwerpen, Vrije Universiteit Brussel en Artevelde Hogeschool. It was the successor of the Support Centre for Study and School Careers (SSL).

Three thematic research areas were covered: a) the learner, b) the teacher and schools as organisations c) the organisation of education. The 3 themes result from the priorities in the policy note on education 2014-2019. SONO provides answers to strategic and practical policy questions regarding the evolution of the quality, efficiency and justice in Flemish education.

3. HIVA Research Institute for Work and Society

HIVA Research Institute for Work and Society is a multidisciplinary research institute of KU Leuven. HIVA specialises in academic and policy-oriented research that can provide a very specific response to current policy issues.

HIVA’s research activities are organized into six groups, including Education and Lifelong Learning, Work and Organisation, and Labour Market. For more information: www.hiva.kuleuven.be/en/about-hiva/about-hiva

4. Statistics Flanders

Statistics Flanders is the network of Flemish government agencies that develop, produce and publish official statistics. The network has the remit to develop and implement a coordinated statistical policy, focused on the flexible, helpful provision of high quality statistics to all users. Statistics are available education and training, labour market, integration, …




5. University / College Research Groups

KULeuven: Occupational & organisational psychology and professional learning: www.ppw.kuleuven.be/o2l

KULeuven: School Psychology and Development in Context www.ppw.kuleuven.be/scad

KULeuven: Educational Science: www.ppw.kuleuven.be/home/onderzoek/onderzoekseenheden#Onderwijskunde

UGent: Educational Studies: www.onderwijskunde.ugent.be

UGent: Social Work and Social Pedagogy: www.ugent.be/pp/swsp/en

UGent: Personnel, Management, Work and Organisational Psychology: www.ugent.be/pp/pao/en

UHasselt: Educational Studies: www.uhasselt.be/UH/Research-groups/GrPerDg.html?oid=11219

VUB Educational Sciences Research: www.vub.ac.be/en/department/educational-sciences#home

VUB Clinical and Life Cycle Psychology: www.vub.ac.be/KLEP

6. Flemish Association for School Psychology:

Vlaamse Vereniging voor Schoolpsychologie (Flemish Association for School Pyschology): aims to improve the professional and scientific status of school psychology in Flanders, by organising training and other activities.(www.schoolpsychologie-vvsp.be)


Last updated at: November 2022