Skip to main content
European Commission logo
EACEA National Policies Platform


4. Social Inclusion

4.1 General context

Last update: 20 November 2020

Main challenges to social inclusion


People with a disability

In 2016 the Human Rights Institute (College voor de Rechten van de Mens) (please see paragraph 4.2 for more information) published the report ‘Insight in inclusion’. The ratification of the VN-agreement makes it compulsory that (young) people with a disability have more access to their rights. It turns out that paid work, education and living independently are nearly impossible for people with a disability. This is one of the reasons that this group has a considerable disadvantage in society.

Decentralization of social policy

Following the above the Human Rights Institute in 2015 in their annual report (only in Dutch) published the results of the annual monitor of the human rights in the Netherlands. Every citizen should have an opportunity to participate in society and not be excluded. In the report the Institute describes the problems related to the decentralization of the social domain. This reform has a big impact on citizens, especially ones in vulnerable positions. The Human Rights Institute gives some recommendations to local and national government to foster the rights of these citizens in a vulnerable position.

Growing up in poverty

A third main challenge is formed by children and young people growing up in poverty. The Netherlands Youth institute (only in Dutch) presents the figures on poverty in families. In 2015 almost 225,700 children lived in households receiving social benefits. In the past five years a constant rise can be seen of the number of children living in households with social benefits. In 2010 this concerned around 197,380 children. 

Youth unemployment

On November 3, 2016 Statistics Netherlands published the following findings on young people and unemployment. A lot of young people not in education (niet-onderwijsvolgend) and without basic qualification are unemployed. In 2008 approximately more than 70 percent had a job, but in the meantime this has decreased to less than 60 percent. Statistics Netherlands also report that, after the economic crisis, it is hard for young people to find a job even if they have a basic qualification. Having a basic qualification means that one has at least a certificate at vocational level or secondary level. In the table below percentages are given of young people at work without (zonder) and with (met)  basic qualification

Rising inequalities

In 2014 the Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid (WRR) (Scientific Council for Government Policy) (in English) and Sociaal en Cultureel Planbureau (SCP) (The Netherlands Institute for Social Research) (in English) published the report ‘Gescheiden Werelden’ (Separated Worlds) (only in Dutch). In their report, they state that different societal developments increase the unequal chances of young people in society and education. People with different educational levels have less contact with each other and have different views on issues in society. In the Youth Wiki, in chapter 3, paragraph 3.6  ‘Integration of Young People in the Labour Market’ and in this chapter 4, paragraph 4.3, you can read more about the policy measure ‘Investing in Equal opportunities’ by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. 


In 2015 there was a sharp increase of refugees coming to the Netherlands. The increase presented challenges to local administrators and citizens in residential areas. Also their participation in society was a challenge. The ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (only in Dutch) strives for early activation of (unemployed) refugees.  The minister of Social Affairs and Employment will change the procedures to help refugees with no legal status to do volunteer work.

Homeless young people

Another main challenge is the number of homeless young people. The age range of these homeless young people is between 18 and 23 years old. Statistics Netherlands (only in Dutch) presented figures on this topic. It is emphasized  that in the age range of 18 – 30 years old homeless young people with non-Western migrant background are younger than homeless young people of Dutch origin.


Main concepts

Appropriate education

A concept which is important in the Netherlands when describing social inclusion concerns ‘appropriate education’ (passend onderwijs). This was introduced in August 2014. Appropriate education is a new method of teaching which focusses on providing education for pupils that need extra help. The goal of this appropriate education is to make sure that all pupils find a suitable place in regular education. The implementation of appropriate education is well underway around half of the action period (2014-2020). You can read more about appropriate education and its results so far in Chapter 6. Education and Training, paragraph 6.2 (internal link).