Secondary vocational education
Secondary vocational education in the Netherlands
Secondary vocational education (middelbaar beroepsonderwijs, MBO) consists of 4 different levels:
- Level 1 (assistant training, entreeopleiding) lasts 1 year and leads to an MBO diploma at level 1.
- Level 2 (basic vocational training, basisberoepsopleiding) lasts 2 years and leads to an MBO diploma at level 2.
- Level 3 (professional training, vakopleiding) lasts 3 years and leads to an MBO diploma at level 3.
- Level 4 (middle-management training, middenkaderopleiding) lasts 3 or 4 years and leads to an MBO diploma at level 4.
- Level 4 (specialist training, specialistenopleiding) lasts 1 year, is open to students who have completed a vocational or middle-management training, and leads to an MBO diploma at level 4.
The MBO diploma is classified as level 1-4 of the Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF). It depends on the duration and the content of the programme.
MBO learning pathways
In addition to the levels and training described, MBO students can choose between 2 learning pathways:
- The school-based pathway (BOL) – students spend at least 20% and no more than 60% of their study programme working in the professional practice.
- The work-based pathway (BBL) – students spend at least 60% of their study programme working in the professional practice.
The professional practice makes up a key aspect of both pathways. Both pathways are leading to the same diploma.
Types of MBO institutions
There are different types of educational institutions that offer secondary vocational education (MBO):
- regional training centres (ROCs);
- agricultural training centres (AOCs);
- vocational schools.
Some of these institutions offer bilingual MBO programmes. See Overzicht tweetalige mbo-opleidingen (in Dutch).
Information about MBO
You can find further information on MBO diplomas on these websites:
- the central government’s website;
- KiesMBO, a Dutch portal about MBO programmes and career choices;
- the SBB website, SBB is the Cooperation Organisation for Vocational Education, Training and Labour Market.