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Career cheques (loopbaancheque)

Country of implementation
General short description of the innovation
In the 2013 reform of the career counseling policy, career cheques were introduced. Every employee and employer in Belgian can buy two career cheques every six years. Each cheque represents four hours of career counseling. A small amount of the costs for these counseling hours is covered by client who pays 40 euros per cheque, but the biggest part is subsidized by the Flemish government. If eight hours would not suffice, it is possible to request up to eight hours more. The career counseling comprises of an introspection on wishes, capacities and interests. The results of this reflection are used to reflect on the labour market and career possibilities. Subsequently, a goal is set with regard to the career. During the counseling, a personal development plan is filled out, containing a resume of the reflection and an action plan describing the steps that should be taken in order to achieve the stated goal.
Target group
Total Populaton
Policy Field
  • employment
  • social
Type of Policy
  • publicly mandated to non-state organisation
Duration of the policy
Initiated in 2005, ongoing. The policy was reformed in 2013. Four key issues were at the center of this reform: liberalization of the market, tailored solutions, disadvantaged groups and quality of services. The most important changes are that everyone can organize subsidized career counseling if a mandate is given to them, that the focus on disadvantaged groups is less prominent, that a tailored system is set up to define who is eligible for more than eight subsidized hours and that the client has more responsibility and flexibility in decision related to the career counseling through the introduction of career cheques.
Scope of innovation
  • Spatial coverage: regional (Flanders)
General description of (intended) objectives and strategies
This policy aims to aid and guide (self-) employed people who have questions about their career. Through the career counseling the government wishes to increase the job-sustainability, the employment in Flanders and augment the retirement age. The 2013 reform adds a specific goal: increase the number of people that follow subsidized career counseling.
Nature of the innovation-short-term perspective
helping and coach people with regard to questions related to their career.
Nature of the innovation-long-term perspective
increasing the job-sustainability, the employment in Flanders and augment the retirement age.
Type of ideal-typical strategy for the innovation
  • encompassing security
Type of innovation
  • new form of policy implementation/delivery
  • new policy, practice or measure
New outputs
  • job guidance, coaching and/or counselling
Intended target group
Employees and self-employed people who have questions about their career. They should be working when they buy the cheques and should have worked for at least 12 months in the previous 24 months. In their employment and social policies, the Flemish government pays special attention to certain disadvantaged groups such as migrants, elderly workers, occupationally disabled and people with a low education level. For this policy instrument two mechanisms can be mentioned in this context. Firstly, organizations that organize career counseling get an additional subsidy if a quotum of their clients belong to a target group. Secondly, clients can apply for more than eight hours of subsidized career counseling. One of the conditions that determine whether the extra hours are granted is whether or not the client is occupationally disabled.
Working age population
  • employment situation (typical work)
  • main source of income: paid work
Actors involved in policy-making/implementation and/or evaluation
  • employees (organised or individual) (organized)
  • employers (organised or individual) (organized)
  • municipal government
  • private for-profit organisations (commercial)
  • private not-for-profit organisations (e.g. Third Sector organisation or NGO)
  • regional government
Intended output
  • job guidance, coaching and counselling
Intended and unintended outcomes
in the first six months after the 2013 reform, 3407 people have started subsidized career counseling
Clarification of outcomes in terms of impacting resilience and labour market inclusion
The outcomes of the new policy instrument have not yet been studied. The statistics do indicate that target groups are less represented in the new system compared to their participation in the old system (before the 2012 reform) / / People with a medium or high level of education are no target group in this policy, the fact that so many clients are in fact medium are highly educated is an unintended outcome. /
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