Work-study contracts : Apprenticeship or Professionalization?

7 Jun 2023 | News, International, International, News



Work-study is a training system based on a practical phase and a theoretical phase.

Work-study can take place under two 2 forms of contracts, namely the apprenticeship contract or the professionalization contract.

Thus, between the apprenticeship contract and the professionalization contract, which one to choose?


1. A Difference in the subject of the contract   

The apprenticeship contract is  part of initial training whose objective is to obtain a state diploma or a professional title.

Conversely, the professionalization contract is part of continuing training aimed at acquiring a recognized professional qualification.

2. A difference in age 

The apprenticeship is aimed at people aged 16 to 29. However, it is possible to conclude an apprenticeship contract beyond the age of 30, with the person recognized as a disabled worker, a high-level athlete or if the person has a business creation or takeover project requiring the diploma prepared.

The professionalization contract is for:

  • persons aged 16 to 25 wishing to complete their initial training.
  • jobseekers aged 26 and over.
  • to beneficiaries of the active solidarity income (« RSA »), the specific solidarity allowance , the allowance for disabled adults and people who have benefited from a single integration contract.


3. A difference in the duration of the contract 

  • The apprenticeship contract can be concluded for a fixed term or for an indefinite period. 

The duration of the contract is equal to that of the training cycle preparing for the qualification which forms the scope of the contract. It can be from 6 months to 3 years maximum. The maximum duration may be increased to 4 years when the apprentice is a disabled worker.

The start date of the apprenticeship cannot be more than 3 months or more than 3 months after the start of the training cycle followed by the apprentice.

The duration of the theoretical training may not be less than 25% of the total duration of the contract.

  • The professionalization contract can also be concluded for a fixed term or for an indefinite period.

The duration of the contract is between 6 and 12 months. For some beneficiaries and to prepare certain diplomas, the duration can be extended up to 3 years.

The duration of the theoretical training represents between 15 to 25% of the duration of the contract without being less than 150 hours, unless exempted by a branch agreement.

    4. A difference in remuneration

    The minimum remuneration of the apprentice is set according to the age and year of apprenticeship. It is fixed by the collective agreement, or failing that by law according to the minimum wage. The more favourable remuneration between the conventional minimum wage or the statutory wage will be applied.

    For contracts concluded on or after 1 January 2019:

    Year of performance of the contract

    Apprentice under 18 years of age

    Apprentice from 18 to 20 years old

    Apprentice from 21 to 25 years old

    Apprentice aged 26 and over

    1st year

    27% minimum wage

    43% minimum wage

    53% minimum wage

    100% minimum wage

    2nd year

    39% minimum wage

    51% minimum wage

    61% minimum wage

    100% minimum wage

    3rd year

    55% minimum wage

    67% minimum wage

    78% minimum wage

    100% minimum wage


    For professionalization contracts, remuneration also varies according to the level of initial training and age.



    Qualification below the baccalaureate

    Qualification equal to or greater than the baccalaureate

    Under 21 

    55% minimum wage

             65% minimum wage

    21 to 25 years

    70% minimum wage

             80% minimum wage

    26 years and older

    At least the minimum wage or 85% of the conventional minimum*

    At least the minimum wage or 85% of the conventional minimum*


    *Retain the highest amount.

    5. Conclusion : 

    Currently, and if you have the opportunity (in practice in most cases, the employer has no choice either because he does not meet the criteria of the contract, or because the school imposes a type of contract), the apprenticeship contract is to be preferred because overall less expensive than the professionalization contract and generally the cost of training (cost of school) is better covered by the OPCO. In addition, the “trial period” is longer (45 days of presence in a company) under the apprenticeship contract than under the professionalization contract.

    As part of the apprenticeship contract, the employee benefits from an examination leave of 5 working days (this number of days may vary depending on collective agreements), leave that does not exist under a professionalization contract.








    This fact sheet contains summary information. Please contact us for advice tailored to your situation. We cannot be held responsible for misinterpretation.




    Claire APPELGHEM

    Head of HR/Employment Law

    01 40 40 38 38


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