The SBB, Foundation for Cooperation on Vocational Education, Training and the Labor Market, works to improve education for the labor market. The Foundation encourages and ensures that the knowledge and skills needed in the workplace are offered in vocational training in the Netherlands. Their main objective is to ensure that students in vocational training programs receive the best possible practical training and job prospects so companies can employ the professionals that they need, now and in the future.  

Jet Boer, Team Coordinator and Project Leader at SBB: "We see it as our role to support learning organizations and schools as much as we can to improve the quality of vocational training. Because the training we give to vocational trainers is based on the 70:20:10 philosophy, the requirement for developing our own work-based learning programs became paramount."

The 70:20:10 model emphasizes the importance of informal learning. Knowledge and information about work should always be at the fingertips of employees. Furthermore, this knowledge and info should always be relevant to the individual and their role. At SBB, three key initiatives are currently underway: a solution for vocational trainers built on a Learning Experience Platform; a solution for SBB advisors using SharePoint; and a solution for service desk staff.

SSB's question

When SBB asked Xprtise at the end of 2019 to investigate the possibility of developing a work-based learning solution for the vocational trainers of accredited learning companies, the objective was clear. Jet: "With the help of Xprtise, we wanted to create the most effective Performance Support solution possible for our (more than 250,000) external vocational trainers, to bring learning and information provision into the flow of work.” Rachel Brouwer, Consultant at Xprtise: "Designing and implementing a suitable Performance Support solution had to bring benefits in four areas:

  • Improve the satisfaction of vocational trainers in the quality of the support provided
  • Increase the number of productive working hours
  • Reduce the costs of training
  • Reduce the number of errors and amount of rework needed."

The more we can look up information that is easily accessible, the more brain-space is left for critical thinking, creativity, and innovation. When an advisor spends less time sharing concepts with a vocational trainer or a BPV-coordinator that can easily be found in the Performance Support solution, more time remains to dive deeper into complex subjects. In addition, it also gives (new) employees, BPV-coordinators, and vocational trainers a clear overview of the tasks that are expected of them. The expectations that SBB sets for them are immediately clear and can be sought out at any time. Relevant and accurate information is always at their fingertips!

The process of mapping the work-based learning solution gave this external target group much insight. Therefore, the same workflow analysis process using the 5 Moments of Need® methodology was performed a year later for the (over 450) SBB-advisers themselves. 

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The learning companies are accredited and advised by these SBB advisors. And recently, a project started for the service desk staff. All three target groups have to deal with a lot of knowledge and information held in many different places.

Jet: "A widely heard 'complaint' was it took too much searching to find the right information. There was a pressing need to map and facilitate access to the information in one central place. Finding the right information quickly and at their moment of need will greatly help the vocational trainers, the BPV-coordinators, and our own advisors. This can be achieved with a work-based learning solution. That's why we asked Xprtise to help us build a strategy to provide our staff with the information they need as effectively as possible."

“By using work-based learning, information is available at exactly the moment it is needed. That's why we asked Xprtise to help us."

Bringing work-based learning into the SBB

Jet: "To dive deeper into the methodology, myself and two colleagues participated in The 5 Moments of Need® Designer training. Participating in the program gave me many excellent insights into how we can apply the approach within SBB."  

The project for the vocational trainers ran from December 2019 to February 2020. When performing workflow analysis, it is a requirement that the people for whom the final work-based learning solution is developed will also be present themselves - in this case, the vocational trainers working at learning companies. After all, they know best what tasks they perform in their work and what they do to train students in practice. To get the best possible outcome, SBB invited vocational trainers from learning companies in different sectors. 

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For example, trainers from a healthcare institution, from a factory that builds bodywork for trucks, and from a marketing and communications company. Rachel: "It was nice to see how actively involved these vocational trainers were and how enthusiastic they were during the project." Before this, SBB had not typically involved the learning companies when developing their offerings in this way. Jet: "It was a key learning that we must start doing that more in the future."

Rachel: "The SBB advisors project was carried out completely virtually. During the discussions, it became clear that the advisors understood the importance of their work and wanted to offer the best possible service to the learning companies. They play a key role. After all, the advisors determine whether or not a learning company is accredited (and whether or not someone can start educating students). At first, I regretted that we could not meet in person as a project group, but it soon became apparent that virtual sessions can be equally effective. The involvement was great!"

The result so far

With the work-based learning solutions that SBB is developing, both the external vocational trainers and the internal advisors will soon have all the necessary information readily available to carry out their work properly. Jet: "We are now in the process of setting up and populating the online platform according to the workflow analysis. We came up with about 80 different sources of information. How useful is it if you, as an advisor, can say: 'I am doing this task; what exactly do I need to advise my client properly?' Working in this way is so much faster." Layering in content is essential to provide just in time, just enough information. By applying the same structure on each page and making navigation intuitive, the performer can find what they need quickly, at the moment of need.

Jet: "It is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process to make everything clear, to gain consensus, and to populate the portal with all the necessary information. We underestimated this. But once it’s up and running, it is a sustainable solution that we can build further on. Xprtise plans to the finest detail; this allows us to build on a reliable foundation. If you do it, you have to do it right!"

“With the work-based learning solutions that we are currently building, both the external vocational trainers and our internal advisors will soon have all the necessary information at their fingertips to carry out their work properly.”

Rachel: "The SBB has got a lot of content, something that was also determined by our analysis. However, not every advisor or vocational trainer has the complete overview of all available information or where they can find it. A work-based learning solution acts as a gateway to this information, helping people in the execution of their work." Some advisors also develop their own resources to assist their work. These great examples of initiative can be used to help other colleagues when they can find these resources too in the work-based learning solution. With SBB ensuring that these types of resources conform to the organization's standards, consistency of working methods is more widely promoted.

The next step

Jet: "We are still in the process of developing the solutions. We have a huge amount of information that we need to organize and make fully available. However, when I talk about what we are doing within our organization, other departments get excited. For example, our service desk is also now investigating how they can reshape their portal on the intranet so that questions can be asked and information be found more easily."

SBB wants to make more use of Xprtise's know-how to do more analyses soon. Jet: "The core tasks of our advisors have been mapped out now. We want to continue with our many customer-facing groups, educational institutions, for example. What are their tasks, and where does that interface with our work? I am well aware that we are not a standard customer for Xprtise. Our work is very different from that of a tiler, for example. To me, Xprtise's flexibility is a great advantage."

Do you want to work with the 5 Moments of Need®?

Are you an L&D professional, and do you, like Jet Boer of SBB, want to innovate in learning and get started with The 5 Moments of Need® methodology? Do you want to transition from classroom training to an approach where learning is linked to the performance of employees where they learn at the moment they need it? Then this is your chance! On Tuesday 23rd November 2021, The 5 Moments of Need® Academy Europe kicks off again with a new 5 Moments of Need® Designer Certificate program. You can find out more here.

Curious about the possibilities for your organization?

Are you curious about the possibilities of work-based learning and the 5 Moments of Need® for your organization? Would you like to receive more information? Contact Alfred Remmits at or on 06-53312590.