Luxembourg: Increase in continuing vocational training

Training provision by employers has increased in Luxembourg, although most small companies are still not offering employees formal training courses. According to two reports published in 2014, men attend training courses more than women, and employees in managerial and executive positions tend to receive more training.


Continuing vocational training for employees in Luxembourg is partly state-funded. The National Institute for the Development of Vocational Training (INFPC) screens applications for funding and presents suitable applications to a committee that then advises the Minister of Education on which to subsidise. The committee comprises representatives of the Vocational Training Service of the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Finances and the Tax Administration. Up to 20% of a company’s annual training expenditure can be subsidised, or up to 35% if it targets poorly educated or older workers. 

The institute published two reports in 2014 based on data collated from the 2012 applications: Access to training for private sector employees in 2012 (in French, 667 KB PDF) and The training effort of the private sector in 2012 (in French, 729 KB PDF). It should be noted that the population from which the data were collated is not considered representative of Luxembourg’s economy.

In 2012, employees working in companies covered by the public funding scheme took, on average, 4.3 training courses, each lasting 5.7 hours. The data suggest a trend towards increased provision of training courses (6% increase on 2011) but shorter sessions (5% shorter on average). An average training course costs €51 per hour and €296 per participant.

Less access to training in small companies

The INFPC received 1,170 applications for funding in 2012, an increase of 8.3% on 2011, corresponding to roughly 6% of all companies in Luxembourg. If small companies with fewer than 50 workers are excluded, however, the proportion rises to 56%. Four out of five large companies with more than 1,000 employees applied for training funds.

While 78% of all enterprises in Luxembourg employed fewer than 10 employees in 2012, only 18% of applicants for training subsidies were in this size bracket. This shows that small companies are less likely to train their workforce, a finding that is confirmed by numerous other studies.

Large companies offer the most training courses (6.3 on average in companies with more than 1,000 employees), with an average duration of 4.6 hours. This compares with a duration of 12.7 hours for very small enterprises (1–9 staff). Long training courses lead to higher average training costs in small firms – an average €565 per participant  – while large companies offer shorter training and report an average training course cost of €249 per participant

Training expenses, therefore, weigh more heavily on the budgets of small businesses, which spend an average 4.3% of staff costs on training, whereas companies with 250 to 999 staff spend 2.0% on average. However, as has been mentioned, very small enterprises are largely underrepresented in the sample, and most do not offer access to any formal training courses.

Strong sectoral differences

Both access to training and its length differ significantly across sectors. Professional, scientific and technical activities (NACE code M) and agriculture and industries (NACE codes A–E) are characterised by many short training courses (8.7 and 5.9 courses per year respectively, each lasting on average 4.9 and 4.5 hours). Low rates of access to training were recorded for workers in administrative and support service activities (NACE code N; 1.4 courses per year), construction (NACE code F; 1.9 courses) and the wholesale and retail trade (NACE code G; 2.0 courses). However, in the latter two sectors, courses are quite lengthy, with an average duration of 9.2 hours per employee in construction and 10.0 hours for wholesale and retail workers. Only the information and communication sector (NACE code J) reports longer average training hours (10.4).

Companies spend an average of 2.5% of their staff costs on training. Across sectors, the transport and storage sector has the highest proportional spending (4.0% of staff costs), followed by professional, scientific and technical activities (3.8%). Administrative and support service activities spends the least (1.2% of staff costs) and this is reflected in the limited amount of training offered in the sector. According to the authors of the reports, investment in training is so low in this sector because of its high share of temporary agency workers. These workers are known to have little access to systematic training and to receive only a basic, if any, grounding in the tasks that comprise their jobs.

The salaries paid to employees while training make up 56% of all training costs, internal trainers account for 10.3%, while the costs of external trainers amount to 26.3%. In some sectors, companies make compulsory contributions to training institutes, such as the Training Institute for the Construction Sector (IFSB), which in turn provide training without any extra charges. 

Most popular topics

The subject areas that receive most funding are those related to technical or occupational aspects of the job, accounting for 36.6% of spending, and those concerning the adaptation of the workplace, representing 19.1%. Technical and occupational training has the highest proportion of participants (39.5%). Classes covering workplace changes are characterised by a few long programmes (6.2% of all participants take part in such courses, which last, on average, 24.5 hours), and the total cost of these courses is higher than average (€903 per participant), although the average hourly price is moderate (€37). The highest hourly costs are reported for training courses on management techniques and human resource management (€67) and language classes (€66). Language courses absorb the smallest share of funding (5.7%), proportion of participants (1.9%) and average training hours (4.4).

Gender gap and the effect of age

Participation in training varies according to various employee characteristics. Participation is greater, for instance, in the higher occupational categories (see Figure 1). 

Men receive more training than women, taking an average of 4.7 training courses, while women take 3.8. This unequal participation in training is due to two factors: access to courses is affected by one's choice of career, and there is a much higher incidence of part-time work among women. In 2012, 86% of all part-time workers in Luxembourg were female. However, it was found that men and women are likely to have equal access to training in very small companies. The greatest inequality in training opportunities was found in very large companies.

Figure 1: Average number of training courses taken per employee in 2012

Source: INFPC Training Observatory

Age is also a factor in access to training. Older workers are less likely to benefit from training. There are many training courses for employees over the age of 45 in agriculture and industry (5.3 per employee), professional, scientific and technical activities (4.6) and transport and storage (4.4). However, this age group has limited access to training in sectors such as information and communication (1.2 courses per employee), administrative and support service activities (1.5) and construction (1.6). 




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