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Boost your career prospects with a training course, evening class or language lessons
Education is the one investment you can make that almost always appreciates with time. Improving your skills or learning new ones can make you more desirable to employers. Best yet, you might just find that your investment leads to more money in your pocket. Here is a selection of ways to continue your education in Belgium. All the courses mentioned are taught in English unless otherwise stated.
Unleash your inner geek with Business Training in Brussels. The company has more than 25 years of experience teaching professionals how to use and manage technology and has become the go-to trainers for European institutions. It can teach you to use basic programmes like Microsoft Office or transform you into a real software engineer. It is also known for its management courses related to the IT sector. One in five courses are taught in English, with the rest in French and Dutch. Courses typically take place over a number of days, and classrooms are fully outfitted with PCs and Macs and are kept small for a more personalised learning experience. Prices start at €250 for basic Microsoft Office training and go up to €2,500 for advanced engineering courses.
Unizo is a Flemish organisation of more than 80,000 self-employed people and SMEs. With its Freelance Friday programme, Unizo offers weekly webinars with experts on innovation, business administration, communication and more. These attract large audiences, which means there is less opportunity for dialogue and exchange. But the quality of the content can make up for the lack of personalised attention. Unizo occasionally offers short seminars on popular subjects such as accounting for freelancers. Training is only open to members, but annual fees are just €191. The only drawback is that courses are only in Dutch.
The French-speaking equivalent is UCM, an advocacy organisation and single point of contact for the self-employed, SMEs and company managers. It runs a UCM Academy for employers and personnel managers in addition to courses for the self-employed, principally in social law. UCM has an office in Evere, Brussels, and a number of offices in each province in Wallonia. Courses are organised in Evere, Louvain-la-Neuve, Charleroi, Mons and Namur.
The British Chamber offers regular educational opportunities, from lunchtime courses on social media to full-day workshops on accounting. Chamber members range from small businesses to well-known British companies, and members themselves often lead these events, which provide opportunities to share expertise and business offerings. Many of these courses are open to members and non-members alike, but non-members pay a higher fee. Membership for freelancers is €330 a year and some of the training is included in your membership. Others may carry a fee. You can expect the training itself to be intimate with a small to medium-sized group and with time for networking afterwards. In autumn 2015, the chamber will be hosting its third annual seminar on expat financial affairs, covering issues such as taxation and buying a house.
The American Chamber of Commerce is larger than its British counterpart and tends to attract more corporate members. Workshops take place roughly once a month on subjects such as crisis management and taxation. They often take place over lunch and include food. Participants enjoy the networking opportunities available at the workshops, which are open to the public, but non-members pay 50% more with prices from €40 to €100.
Self-employed professionals can take advantage of Vlerick Business School’s management programme, which is open to all students. You can take just one course or many on subjects including human resources, finance, marketing and more. Vlerick also offers specific programmes for entrepreneurs and small to medium-sized businesses. There are campuses in Ghent, Leuven and Brussels and classes are taught in English and Dutch. Prices range from €1,500 for a two-day course to €13,000 for one that lasts a month.
United Business Institutes in Brussels offers an MBA on a full- or part-time basis. The programme is validated by Middlesex University London and students are awarded a Middlesex University London degree on completion. Fees for students beginning in the 2014/15 academic year were €14,850.
At Solvay Brussels School of Economics and Management, you can study a full- or part-time MBA, as well as a global executive MBA, a dual degree with the Fox School of Business at Temple University, Philadelphia, which is taught across one weekend a month. Most classes take place in Paris, but there are also sessions in Brussels, Shanghai and the US. Fees for the global executive MBA are €42,000; the standard MBA programme costs €32,000. Solvay also offers advanced master’s degrees in areas including creativity and marketing, strategic management and financial markets. Fees are €12,500.
Louvain School of Management’s 18-month international executive MBA includes three study trips to China, Brazil and India. Groups are a maximum of 25 people and are adapted to allow participants to balance professional and private life while studying and increasing networking opportunities. Fees are €30,000.
Antwerp Management School scored highest of Belgium’s business schools in the Financial Times’ most recent rankings for its master degree in management, a programme designed for recent graduates with at most three years of experience. Its executive MBA is aimed at “self-critical professionals with open minds and very positive learning attitudes from various sectors”. MBA fees are €31,500.
Brussels is a fantastic place to learn just about any language. Berlitz has the most comprehensive offering, with courses in 35 languages and offices throughout the country, but it is also one of the most expensive schools. The Marie Haps institute in the EU quarter offers evening and Saturday classes in 19 languages at a cost of €245-285 for the academic year. Residents of Brussels are entitled to subsidised Dutch classes at adult education centres, or CVOs; for the first six modules you pay only for your books (about €35).
A simple Google search will also turn up dozens of private schools and tutors throughout the country for all budgets, and teachers often advertise on The Bulletin website. Visit your town hall for more information about language courses where you live, or see The Bulletin’s Newcomer magazine, published in March and September.
For executives or others who are pushed for time, Ceran in Spa offers an efficient alternative way of acquiring language skills without taking a sabbatical and without having to travel far. Their immersive residential courses combine interactive techniques and activities, helping executives build a skill set to fit their own needs. The centre offers programmes in 11 languages.
The Open University is Britain’s largest state-chartered university, with more than 240,000 students, including more than 9,000 in mainland Europe and about 500 in Belgium. It specialises in supported distance learning for part-time adult study. Study areas include computing, business studies, retail management, chemistry and design. All modules are designed to be studied at home and require between six and 16 hours of study a week. Students in mainland Europe use the same materials as those in the UK and are supported by their own tutor.
SupDeWeb in Brussels and Paris, part of MediaSchool Group, is the first school dedicated to the digital world. It offers a one-year master’s programme in French covering every aspect of the digital world, from e-marketing and SEO to e-commerce, apps and social media. The methodology involves one day in class and four days’ internship, which allows students to transform theoretical knowledge into practical experience. A bachelor degree in web communication covers three aspects of the internet: content management, e-commerce and development, based on case studies and internships.
This article was first published in The Bulletin Business Guide 2015