Secondary vocational education (MBO)

Secondary vocational education takes up to four years, depending on the level of training. Those who complete their training can start work or go on to another form of education. More than 700 vocational courses are provided in the Netherlands.

Levels of training

Secondary vocational education (MBO) prepares students for a wide range of occupations, from franchise manager to mechanic or nursing assistant. Demand for skilled workers is expected to increase sharply on the Dutch job market in the future.

MBO courses are given at four different levels of training, each leading to a specific job qualification:

  • level 4: middle-management training;
  • level 3: professional training;
  • level 2: basic vocational training;
  • level 1: assistant training.

Pupils who have successfully completed the theoretical, combined or middle-management vocational programme at VMBO level can enrol in professional and middle-management training (MBO levels 3 and 4). Holders of a level 4 MBO certificate may go on to higher professional education (HBO).

Practical training and classroom learning.

For each MBO course there are two learning pathways: vocational training (BOL) where practical training takes up between 20% and 60% of the course; and block or day release (BBL) where practical training takes up more than 60% of the course.

International accreditation

Secondary and pre-vocational education certificates are recognised abroad. You can find more information on accreditation and certificates on the website of Colo, the National Reference Point for the Netherlands.

Costs of vocational education for students over the age of 18

Students from the age of 18 must pay tuition or course fees, which are set every year by the government. Students over the age of 18 are usually eligible for a student grant and a public transport student concession card.