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Dutch government policy has a focus on youth employment and education for young people, but also on entrepreneurship, which will be discussed later on in this chapter. The government took a number of policy measures to tackle the problems with youth unemployment and to make education possible for all young people. In the next paragraphs the policy measures will be presented.
Stimulating participation in the labor market is based on the Participation Act (2014). Everyone who can work but needs support in getting a job falls under this act. The act is meant to help all people (including youth) with or without work limitations in finding a suitable job.
In the Netherlands the re-integration policy is carried out in a decentralized way. The government establishes the frameworks and makes funds available to municipalities and the Employee Insurance Agency (in Dutch: Uitvoeringsinstituut WerknemersVerzekeringen; UWV). The municipalities and UWV are co-responsible for guiding jobseekers (including young people) towards an unemployment benefit, a training and/or a job during short-term and long-term unemployment.
The Dutch labor market is divided into 35 labor market regions (in Dutch: arbeidsmarktregio’s). Regional and local stakeholders are well informed about local labor market circumstances. They are able to provide, if necessary, custom-made support to unemployed people. This regional approach is the outcome of a process that started already in 2009 to create cooperation structures of stakeholders at the regional level in order to address unemployment issues.
Since 2009 the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment together with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science have taken extra measures, in addition to the already existing generic policy, to tackle youth unemployment as a result of the economic crisis. It is a joint approach with UWV, municipalities, employers, schools, social partners and youths themselves. See for further information paragraph 3.6.
Also, since 2020 the aforementioned ministries have taken various actions to tackle and prevent youth unemployment as a result of the corona crisis. Read more about this approach in paragraph 3.1.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs is the main actor for the areas of entrepreneurship and economic policy.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment works together with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science on the issue of the transition between education and the labor market and on cooperation between education, companies and government in order for young people to find suitable jobs. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has partnerships with education institutes and business companies in order to find suitable traineeships and apprenticeships. In the following paragraphs the cooperation between these actors will be discussed.
The Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER)
The Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands SER advises government and parliament on the directions of the implementation of socio-economic policies. Since October 2015 SER has an active youth platform. With this platform the SER wants to structure youth participation within its activities. The Youth Platform meets a couple of times per year. The members discuss general topics and participate in specific consultation processes..
Youth Trade Unions
Youth trade unions can influence central policies through consultation. For example:
- FNV Jong (Federation Netherlands Trade Union - Young). This is an organization for and by young people. Since 2006 the FNV has a seat at the Social and Economic Council SER.
- CNV Jongeren (Christian National Trade Union – Young people).
You can read more about these organizations in the section ‘the main non-public actors’ in this paragraph.
Initiatives by young people
Young people have organized themselves in several initiatives to gain specific political attention to youth matters:
- Coalitie-Y (Coalition-Y): This cooperation of young people has been named after generation Y or the millennial generation. Initially founded by political party Christian Union and 6 youth organizations, now 38 organizations that represent young people have joined the initiative. Coalitie-Y gains political attention to urgent issues faced by young people, like a lack of financial security because of flexible employment contracts, and presents solutions to the Dutch government.
- Jongeren Denktank Coronacrisis (Young People Think Tank Corona Crisis): A joint initiative of the SER Youth Platform and Coalitie-Y to advise Cabinet about solutions for young people during the corona crisis, also regarding youth unemployment, opportunities for new workers on the labor market, re-training and extra training, young people with creative and cultural professions and the transition between education and work.
Main governmental actors involved in policy making on youth employment:
- Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment: Responsible for labor market policies.
- Ministry of Education, Culture and Science: Ensures that everyone gets a good education and is prepared for taking responsibility and independence.
- Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy: Committed to ensuring an excellent entrepreneurial business climate, by creating the right conditions and giving entrepreneurs room to innovate and grow.
- Netherlands Enterprise Agency: Encourages entrepreneurs in sustainable, agrarian, innovative and international business. It helps with grants, finding business partners, know-how and compliance regarding laws and regulations. The aim is to improve opportunities for entrepreneurs and strengthen their position.
- Municipalities and the Arbeidsmarktregio’s (Labor market regions).
Main public actors involved in policy making on youth employment:
- Association of Netherlands Municipalities (Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten; VNG).
- Werkgevers Servicepunt (Employers service desk). This is a cooperation between UWV (Employee Insurance Agency), municipalities, schools and several knowledge centres; .
- The Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands SER.
- Dutch National Youth Council (Nationale Jeugd Raad).
- Foundation for Cooperation on Vocational Education, Training and the Labor Market (SBB): Determines which companies can call themselves accredited work placement companies.
- Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemers Verzekeringen UWV Employee Insurance Agency).
- Municipalities’ councils aldermen (in Dutch: wethouders).
- Regionale Meld en Coördinatie punten RMC (Regional Reporting and Coordination Centers): The are 39 RMC’s for reporting of early school leavers. The centers follow school leavers between the age of 18 and 23 until they have obtained their basic qualification.
- Dutch Inspectorate of Education : Responsible for the inspection and review of schools and educational institutions.
- Inspectorate SWZ (Social Affairs and Employment): Works on honest, healthy and safe work and income for all citizens.
Main non-public actors taking part in the regulation and implementation of youth employment:
- Sector councils, such as:
- Association of Universities in the Netherlands (VSNU).
- The Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (Vereniging van Hogescholen).
- Dutch VET council (MBO Raad).
- Secondary Education Council (VO-raad).
- Primary Education Council (PO-Raad).
- Representation bodies for students:
- Landelijke Studenten Vakbond (LSVB) (National Students Union).
- Dutch National Students Association (Interstedelijk Studentenoverleg; ISO).
- Jongeren Organisatie Beroepsonderwijs (JOB) (Youth Organization Vocational Education).
- Landelijk Aktie Komitee Scholieren (LAKS) (National Action Committee Students secondary education).
- Temporary employment agencies.
- Employers’ organizations: Important for the implementation of youth employment and entrepreneurship policies. These employers’ organizations will be discussed in the next paragraph on Entrepreneurship.
- CNV Jongeren (Christian National Trade Union – Young People) is an independent trade union for young people. CNV Young People is connected to the National Federation of Christian Trade Unions in the Netherlands (Christelijke Vakbond Nederland) that has over 335.000 members.
- FNV Jong (Federation Netherlands Trade Union - Young) was established in 2012 and is an independent trade union for young people. FNV Young is connected to the Federation Netherlands Trade Union that has 1 million members.
- Coalitie-Y (Coalition-Y): A cooperation of 38 youth organizations.
- Jongeren Denktank Coronacrisis (Young People Think Tank Corona Crisis): A joint initiative of the SER Youth Platform and Coalitie-Y.
- Research institutes, such as Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek - CBS). Research institutes enable people to debate about social issues based on reliable statistical information.
Thanks to several (youth) councils young people have opportunities to express their concerns on topics such as employment and entrepreneurship. The following are examples of councils which represent young people in these topics:
- FNV Jong and CNV Jongeren are both youth trade organizations that try to influence the government on topics such as youth employment and entrepreneurship. As stated above, young people can for example contact FNV Jong if they encounter problems at work. The positon of FNV Jong in the Social Economic Council gives them the right to advise the government directly.
- Another example is the Dutch National Youth Council (Nationale Jeugd Raad). In chapter five ‘Youth Participation’ the role of the National Youth Council in participation processes is explained.
Outcomes of consultations
In 2021 the Jongeren Denktank Coronacrisis (Young People Think Tank Corona Crisis) presented its advice about support for young people during the corona crisis to the Dutch prime minister: En nu… daden! (And now… actions!) Among other things the report contains advice about improving young people’s chances on the labor market.
In 2019 the Youth Platform of the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER) published the report Hoge verwachtingen: kansen en belemmeringen voor jongeren in 2019 (High expectations chances and obstacles for young people in 2019), which also has a chapter about youth employment.
FNV Jong (Federation Netherlands Trade Union - Young), which has a seat in the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands (SER), helped to develop a consultation report about equal chances on the labor market for non-Dutch youth.
Evaluation at the national level
The programmes and policy measures of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment are being evaluated. In 2019 the Ministry of Finance published a policy review about the national policy for young people with (a risk to) poor employment prospects. In 2015 Panteia monitored the Ministry of Social Affairs and Emploment’s regional approach against youth unemployment: Monitor regionale aanpak jeugdwerkloosheid. The ministry’s previous Action Plan Youth Unemployment, prepared in 2009, was evaluated in 2011, also by Panteia: Samen in actie. Evaluatie Actieplan Jeugdwerkloosheid (Acting together, Evaluation of the Action Plan on Youth unemployment).
Evaluation at the regional level
Some of the previous regional Action Plans of the period 2014-2015 were also evaluated at regional level. An example is the Evaluatie Actieplan Jeugdwerkloosheid region Rijnmond (Evaluation Action Plan Youth Unemployment region Rijnmond). After the evaluation of this Action Plan region Rijnmond FNV Jong lobbied to renew the policy and the measures.
Monitoring and policy evaluation
All ministries (Evaluaties van beleid = Evaluations of policy) are required to frequently evaluate their programmes and their acts. In their budget proposals the ministers present the evaluation studies they are planning. The outcome of the evaluation is reported in the annual report. The reports are discussed in Parliament.