- Youth Unemployment in the Netherlands
- Youth Unemployment Task Force to seek jobs for young people
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Youth Unemployment Task Force in the Netherlands
The Peer Review was held on 28th and 29th April 2005 in Den Haag, the Netherlands, hosted by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW). In addition to the host country, a further eight countries participated in the discussions as follows: Austria, Bulgaria, Iceland, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and Turkey.
Youth Unemployment Task Force
The current focus on youth unemployment in the Netherlands started in 2003 with a ‘Youth Unemployment Action Plan’ submitted to Parliament. A principal objective of the plan is that the rate of unemployment for youth must not exceed twice the overall rate of unemployment over the period 2003-2007. From this emerged the Youth Unemployment Task Force charged with promoting the implementation of policy at national, sectoral, but especially regional and local levels.
The setting up of the Task Force allowed a direct approach to tackling the problem of youth unemployment which stood at 14 per cent compared with 6 per cent overall. The challenge for the initiative was to find a job or training/education opportunity within six months of young people becoming unemployed. As such it needs the close co-operation of other players – including the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, but importantly those agencies operating at regional and local levels where much of the approach is focused in the Netherlands.
The Task Force has a small board comprising six members (all with significant experience in fields relevant to youth employment) working on a part-time basis, and a budget of Euro 3.9m per year to support staffing and activities. The main focus is on harnessing existing resources, summarised in the ‘three C’s’ of: Co-operation, Communication and Campaigning. Ambitious targets have been set for the creation of new openings for young people – 50,000 new jobs in 2005, for example. However, the challenges are great and one of the biggest is the large number of young people leaving school early without qualifications. Peer Review participants also visited two contrasting projects providing work experience to disadvantaged youths in the Amsterdam area.
There was discussion about the context of youth unemployment in the Netherlands and the growing problem among certain sub groups such as some ethnic minorities and early leavers from education. The impact of the Task Force had not yet been formally evaluated though there was some debate as to how targeted it was and how effective it could be in preventing long term youth unemployment.
Aspects of Transferability
All the Peer Review countries could identify with the problem of youth unemployment and the need for policies to tackle it. However some saw it more in the context of wider structural changes in the economy and society rather than as a cyclical phenomenon. In some countries the problem was more associated with specific sub groups (such as Roma) and the need to tackle informal economic activity, for example. There was also some difference between the member states in the extent to which youth unemployment was seen as a key priority for labour market policy (given, in particular, that youth unemployment in most countries was not predominantly long-term unemployment), and there was some debate about the rationale for a policy focus on this group (rather than, for example, older workers).
Participants were impressed by the way in which the Task Force’s comparatively lean infrastructure marshalled resources at all levels to develop initiatives, and gave a positive assessment to some of those initiatives, eg particular interest was shown in the more structured approach to the recognition of skills and experience embodied in the youth labour market 'passport', developed by the Task Force, as well as the innovative media campaign designed to raise employer interest in and awareness of what young unemployed people can offer. However, some concern was also expressed over the apparent lack of follow-through for some young people on programmes associated with the Task Force, and a lack of information about their subsequent destinations.