Contribution to EIRO thematic feature on Youth and work - case of the Netherlands
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Youth, the role of young people in Europe and the importance of youth employment and qualification are high on the European agenda and at national level.
At European level the importance of caring about young people has recently been stressed. The Commission published in March 2005 a communication [COM (2005) 206 final] on European policies concerning youth, stating that the destiny of Europe increasingly depends on its ability to foster societies that are child- and youth-friendly.
Demographic trends illustrating dramatic changes in the size and age structure of Europe’s population, obviously worried policy makers. The number of young people aged 15 to 24 is set to drop by a quarter, from 12.6 to 9.7%, between 2005 and 2050, while the age-group 65 + will grow from 16.4 to 29.9%.  The Commission’s Green paper on Confronting demographic change  draws attention to the implications for Europe of these changes.
Firstly stress is put on the inter-generational burden, as a small number of young people will have to carry the burden of replacing the larger numbers of the preceding generations. Secondly boosting growth and enhancing sustainable development will significantly required young people’s contribution, as recognized in the European Pact for Youth adopted by the Spring-2005 European Council. Finally, integrating young people in the labor market is crucial for ensuring social inclusion, as they are particularly at risk of poverty (19% of 16-24 year olds, compared with 12% of 25-64 year-olds). All actions and policies have to consider a gender perspective, as young women experience higher unemployment and higher risk of poverty than young men.
At national level, youth employment raises concerns in most member states. European average figures show how transition into the labour market for young people is difficult, with youth unemployment more than double the overall rate within Europe (17.9% for under 25, compared with 7.7% for 25 year-olds and up). Particularly worrying is the fact that youth-unemployment ratio quickly adjust to economic slowdowns.
Gender differences still exist and their consequences become more and more complex to address. Young women generally do better in the education system than young men, nevertheless they are still more likely to be unemployed. In economic slowdown period although, as recent figures show in some countries, the increase of unemployment affects more young men than their female counterpart.
Furthermore, ambiguous impacts of employment and training programmes increase the complexity for governments and all the actors to conceive policies addressing effectively the issue. As analysis of the Norwegian Youth programmes have shown, employment, training and vocational programmes have various impacts even if they -a priori- all target young people. As Ines Hardoy’s study states separate analyses for subgroups indicate that employment programmes increase the full-time employability of females but not of males, and for the younger age group, but not of those over 20 years of age.
Training programmes have no positive effects, irrespective of subgroup. Vocational programmes are counterproductive for teenagers, which is the group at which it is targeted.
Against this background, the thematic feature aims to report on:
- The regulation of the employment relationship for young people;
- The framework for employment policies targeted at young people, and in particular those policies and regulations concerning the transition from education into working-life;; and
- The role and opinions of the social partners.
1. Regulatory framework
In your country, is there a specific policy towards young workers?
*Which definition of young worker is used? (please indicate age criteria)
The young worker is of the age of 16 or 17, a child is considered to be younger than 16 years of age (Aricle 1:1 lid 3 Jo Art. 1:2 lid 1 working time act (Arbeidstijdenwet)). In the Working conditions act (arbeidsomstandighedenwet), young workers are those workers less than 18 years of age.
Are there targeted policies for young people in general, for young workers specifically, focusing on some categories of young workers?
On 31 October 2003 the Dutch government created the Taskforce youth employment. This Taskforce is the embodiment of the governmental plan to combat youth unemployment.
Goals of this plan are:
- During the cabined period it is a goal to keep the percentage of youth unemployment below the double percentage of the total unemployment
- Every unemployed younger has to be back in employment or school within six months, so that long term unemployment is not an option.
The Taskforce is mainly focused on young people without sufficient starting skills. For these categories the aim is to create learning/working jobs. See more exhaustive, below under National Programmes on Youth employment.
*What are the main regulatory acts dealing with youth employment/ unemployment/ working conditions?
- Laws, national inter-professional collective agreements
- Is there specific protective legislation covering young people, concerning for instance hours of work or minimum wages?
Children and younger people are not allowed to work under certain circumstances. In the Working time act (Arbeidstijdenwet, ATW) and the Regulation on working conditions (Arbeidsomstandighedenbesluit), strict rules are listed. For children from 15 and younger there is a working prohibition. They can only work under strict exceptions and conditions. Younger people from 16 and 17 years of age are allowed to work, but certain activities are prohibited.
There are certain exceptions on the working prohibition for children from 15 and younger
(these exceptions only apply when it concerns working in holidays and outside of the normal school time);
- children from the age of 12 are allowed to work as part of a working penalty;
- children from the age of 13 are allowed to help with light non-industrial work;
- children from the age of 14 are allowed to participate in a work placement programme;
- children from the age of 15 are allowed to bring morning papers.
Certain supplementary conditions have to be fulfilled in order to use these exceptions. These conditions are listed in the specific rules (Nadere regeling kinderarbeid). What kind of work falls under light non-industrial work is described in yet another set of rules (Beleidsregels niet-industriële hulparbeid van lichte aard).
Furthermore there is legislation concerning minimum wages for younger workers. In the Regulation on minimum wages for young workers it is regulated that young workers in the age categories 15-22 have certain specific minimum wages. The minimum wage is derived from the ‘normal’ minimum wage which is defined in the Minimum wage act (Wet minimumloon). The minimum wage for young workers per category (as a percentage):
- 22 years old: 85
- 21 years old: 72 ½
- 20 years old: 61 ½
- 19 years old: 52 ½
- 18 years old: 45 ½
- 17 years old: 39 ½
- 16 years old: 34 ½
- 15 years old: 30.
2. National Programmes on Youth employment
Is youth unemployment perceived as a major political issue and/or concern for the social partners in your country?
Youth unemployment is conceived as a major political issue and concern for the social partners in The Netherlands. The main players on the employee side are the Federation of Dutch trade unions (Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging, FNV) and the Christian Trade Union Federation (Christelijk Nationaal Vakverbond, CNV) and VNO-NCV and MKB Nederland for the employers. Both parties are pressing for more so-called working/learning jobs, a dual structure in which the young worker is learning and working at the same time. At this moment there are plans for a tripartite working top summit with the Dutch government and the social partners. One of the main aims of this summit is to achieve a plan in which the social partners can combat youth unemployment by creating more working place jobs for young workers and young people in general. To achieve these plans the FNV and CNV want more money form the government, this has caused a lot of tension around the ‘top working summit’. There has been some delay because of these tensions and at first the summit was cancelled. At the end of November 2005 however an agreement has been reached, after the Cabinet promised an extra € 75 million for the creation of the above-mentioned working/learning jobs, € 20 million for medium vocational education and € 15 million to create a kind of simulation trainee posts for young people unable to find real trainee posts. These sums will be added to the € 40 million already promised to employers through a tax scheme. Another € 60 million might come up to reducre the number of drop outs in the technical and vocational training system.
Please provide the major figures available and pertinent on youth employment/ unemployement / long term unemployment, broken down per gender.
In the beginning of 2005 around 115,000 people between 15 and 24 are unemployed. There are roughly just as much female as male unemployed. From the youth working population 13 to 14 percent are unemployed. Approximately 45 percent of almost 2 million young people are part of the working population. A lot of young people exclusively follow education and are not part of the working population. From the youth unemployed about 40 percent is following an education.
Has your country adopted a specific national programme/ specific programmes dealing with youth employment (especially concerning the transition from education to employment)?
If yes, Please specify the content, public targeted, objectives, outcomes expected and dates of conception and implementation of each programme.
Specific national programme dealing with youth employment:
As mentioned above, Dutch government has set out goals in reducing youth unemployment. In 2003 a plan was developed to tackle youth unemployment. In line with the guidelines of the European Employment Strategy, the Dutch government aims at offering each young person a job or a training position before six months in unemployment are reached. Furthermore, according to the Lisbon target, by 2010, the number of young people leaving school without a starting qualification level should be halved. The plan contains 31 action points, among them:
a) reducing early school-leaving without a diploma;
b) reinforcing job mediation for young unemployed by the Centra voor Werk en Inkomen (CWI, the employment offices).
This includes specific acquisition among employers of vacancies which are suitable for young (low-educated) unemployed, specific job fairs for this target group and a specific entry for this target group at the website;
c) inviting the social partners to consider the possibility of introducing pay for low-skilled young people at the level of the statutory minimum youth wage (most pay systems agreed upon in collective agreements start at higher wage levels);
d) increasing the number of apprenticeship training places. One way mentioned to attain this goal is to (re)install so-called common training activities (GOAs) which can act as an employer for the apprentices, while at the same time individual employers in the region can hire in these apprentices, which contains less risks for them than fully employing them as apprentices. Another example mentioned to increase the number of apprenticeship places is to stimulate public authorities to include conditions about offering apprenticeship places when, for example, they commission infrastructural projects (contract compliance). Another option is further development and recognition of apprenticeship places in so called “simulation company”.
e) streamlining and improving the careers in initial (vocational) education. This includes smoothing the steps from lower secondary education to intermediate vocational education, developing tools for the recognition of practically acquired competences to avoid unnecessary theoretical “school-type” ways of learning if these competences can also be attained by practical experience in an (apprenticeship) job, and incorporating more incentives in the financing of schools to avoid early exit.
f) the introduction of a special taskforce to act as a catalyst for the implementation of the plan and its action points.
Task Force Youth Employment
The main actor in combating Youth unemployment is the Taskforce, created by the Dutch government on 31 October 2003. The Taskforce has set to work on acquiring 40,000 jobs for young people within the present government’s term of office. The creation of these jobs takes place in cooperation with MKB Nederland who have committed themselves to create 10,000 learning jobs.
The goals are set out in a work plan called Working together (Samen aan het werk) developed by the Taskforce. The target pursued by the Cabinet, as mentioned, is to limit youth unemployment not more than twice the average unemployment rate. The basic principle of the plan is for every jobless young person either to be re-employed or to be receiving education within six months. According to the working plans of the Taskforce for 2004 and 2005 it displays a variety of activities. Improving the cooperation between (local) actors is a key objective.
Approach employers directly with regard to jobs for young people
The task force is going to set up a “flying squad” to inform companies at regional meetings and encourage them to make jobs available. Initially, the task force will concentrate on obtaining normal jobs and traineeships for young people without formal qualifications.
Acquire traineeship placements
The Taskforce will talk to municipalities about opportunities for young people to take up traineeship placements without losing entitlements to social security benefits.
Stimulate training for young people
Young people must be able to take short training courses appropriate to their situation if they need them. Another matter the Taskforce will tackle is early school leaving. The Taskforce will organise regional meetings for a range of purposes such as examining, together with municipalities and Regional Registration and Coordination Centres, ways of preventing the occurrence of young people failing to finish their schooling.
Financial aid for employers:
In addition to the national programmes on Youth Employment there are some programmes for financial aid for employers:
1) Wet vermindering afdracht (WVA). If an employer trains a Young worker so that he is sufficiently skilled, there is a financial compensation in wage and indirect costs of a maximum of 1500 Euro per employee, or even 4000 Euro if it is a former unemployed. 2) Youth job cheque CWI. Employers who, through negotiation of the CWI, employ a youngster without a starting qualification receive financial aid of maximum 1000 Euro.
3) Working with social benefits. Employers don’t have to pay these youngsters. It has to be a supernumerary working place position with schooling and there has to be a real chance on a paid job.
4) Boarding jobs. A local government wage subsidy for employers who hire youngsters for six till twelve months and pays according to the Collective Agreement.
*What are the objectives?
- To boost employment, to prevent unemployment, to increase skills and qualifications, to raise the ratio of young workers’ vocational training participation
To improve the relation between knowledge and skills needed by economy? Apprenticeship
*What are the outcomes?
At the moment of writing (November 2005) it is still too early to present results.
Which actors have been involved in the programmes?
Many actors have been and are involved in the above mentioned programmes;
- The Taskforce has set up a network of local chairmen, they have committed themselves to achieve certain goals on a sectoral level;
- Employers organisations VNO-NCW, the employers organisation for the agricultural sector (LTO Nederland) and MKB Nederland have committed themselves to achieve certain goals. VNO-NCW has asked all its members to create Jongeren Ontwikkelings- en ervaringsPlaatsen (JOP). A JOP is an internship of three months without losing social benefits. If the youngster is successful he/she gets a bonus of € 450 from the employer. MKB Nederland wants to create 10,000 learning jobs (this is integrated in the general programme/plan of creating jobs by the Taskforce);
- The municipalities Eindhoven, Hengelo and Rotterdam have, in cooperation with the Taskforce, introduced the Opleidings- & Ontwikkelingsfondsen (O&O Fondsen). This is a form of public and private cooperation in which public and private companies work together in finding a good match between a young persons capabilities and a matching job;
- The Taskforce has in cooperation with education authorities made agreements to create an comprehensive plan in combating the early school leavers and motivate the lower skilled to get more education.
Is there any specific comprehensive approach of youth social and professional inclusion through national programmes, or even regional /local programmes?
As mentioned above there are national and regional/local programmes which are aiming at some categories of young lower skilled people. These programmes focus on the transition from education to employment and on getting unskilled workers more skilled or preventing early school drop outs.
How programmes have been evaluated? How results have been assessed?
It is too early to say whether the plan and the role of the Taskforce in it, are successful. In Table 5 a summary of current measures is given.
3. Role and views of the social partners on Youth at work
Please provide brief details of the role and views of the social partners regarding the current policies and regulatory framework on youth employment in your country.
a) Do the social partners play a specific role in youth employment policy shaping? In Youth employment policy implementation? At what level (National/sectoral/company)?
The social partners do not, at this moment, play a specific role in youth employment policy shaping. In the near future the role of the social partners on this point may change. The above mentioned tripartite top summit may proof a change in policy. At this moment it is unclear what this role might be. The social partners are however for a big part integrated in the governmental plans in combating youth unemployment. In Youth employment policy implementation the social partners are involved on a National, sectoral and company level.
On an National and company level employers organisations MKB Nederland and VNO-NCW are contributing to the policy implementation. VNO-NCW has asked all its members to create Jongeren Ontwikkelings- en ervaringsPlaatsen (JOP). MKB Nederland wants to create 10.000 learning jobs (this is integrated in the general programme of creating jobs by the Taskforce).
Central Points for information and reporting of problems about internship, apprenticeship places and jobs have been initiated at employers organisations (Jongactief), and the CWI (Leerbaan alarmlijn). Employee organisations helped coordinating these joint actions. Moreover, together with several actors, an information point for young people and their parents about internships and apprenticeship places has been initiated (Stageinformatiepunt, STIP).
b) How do the social partners contribute to specifying qualification and initial training needs for the national economy?
See the former sections
c) What are the main issues collective agreements on youth employment deal with?
The main issues are on minimum wages for young workers, the minimum wages in collective agreements are often higher than in the minimum in the law (cf. NL0402102F)
Next to these main issues collective agreements sometimes also provide for the so called learning working jobs. The creation of learning jobs has been agreed upon in 21 Collective Agreements In eight Collective Agreements a concrete number of learning jobs has been agreed, this amounts to a number of 1,100 places. Thirteen collective agreements are without a target figure.
An example of a collective agreement in which learning working jobs are provided is the collective agreement on Textiles Chain stores: “On an yearly basis sufficient learning jobs shall be created so as to afford a balanced and workable relationship between function and age.”
d) Is there any sectoral plan/programme/action aimed at attracting and/or retaining young people in sectors lacking of workforce availability? Has this plan/programme/action been jointly -between Trade Unions and Employers Organisations- conceived and implemented? If not who devised it?
Using the O&O (Education & Development) Youth Model, the Task Force has launched a so-called massive schooling offensive in which municipalities and funds (O&O funds) pool their resources in order to lead youths, via vocational traineeship, towards attaining the initial qualification level. This is considered to be a good model for sectors lacking of workforce availability to attain qualified workers. Social partners do not have an explicit role in this. It is a public-private coordination programme, see also above.
e) If a sectoral plan/programme/action existed, what were the objectives, the target, the content?
See previous question.
f) What were the results?
No evaluation data are available.
4. Discussions and research
Are there currently discussions underway about ways to tackle the issue of youth unemployment among trade unions and employers’ organisations?
See under 2. Furthermore there is some discussion on how to activate the young unemployed to come to action days and participate in the created learning jobs. This is not especially a discussion between trade unions and employer’s organisations, but it is a relevant issue for future policy.
Please specify the main recent research on that topic.
Recent research on the above mentioned topic indicates that the main problem groups are younger people without a starting qualification. This group is more difficult to motivate and shows little motivation to search fore jobs. Activation policy should be focused on these problem groups because they are most likely to loose connection with the labour market.
Is there any short term policy planned?
Not to our knowledge.
Especially in the nineteen eighties, youth unemployment was a major problem in the Netherlands. The problem seemed to have vanished at the end of the nineteen nineties, when the economy was booming and unemployment very low. Now the problem is back on the agenda, in a period where the gap between young with or without sufficient qualifications seems to increase, in a labour market where only the demand for higher qualified personnel is rising.
Government and social partners seem sufficiently aware of the problem and have taken different measures to tackle the problem. It remains to be seen whether these measures will have the intended effects, especially for part of the young members of minority groups.
Jotte Mulder, Robbert van het Kaar (HSI)
- 2004-based Eurostat population projections, baseline variant
- COM (2005) 94
- Annex 1 of Presidency Conclusions of the European Council, Brussels, 22-23.3.2005 (7619/05)
- Céreq Bref, GÉNÉRATION 2001 : S’insérer lorsque la conjoncture se dégrade -- n° 214 décembre 2004 The survey « Génération 2001 » follows up on the surveys « Génération 92 », considering 27,000 young people who quitted the education system in 1992 and « Génération 98 », ran with 55 000 young people whose studies finished in 1998. The objective is always the same: analysis of the first years of youth active life. The methodology vary: «Génération 98 » will allow to follow the inclusion path, at least during 7 years, where the survey «Génération 2001» consist in only one interview at the end of the third year on the labour market.
- Inés Hardoy, “Impact of Multiple Labour Market Programmes on Multiple Outcomes: The Case of Norwegian Youth Programmes”,© 2005 CEIS, Fondazione Giacomo Brodolini and Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 9600 Garsington Rd., Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main St., Malden, MA 02148, USA.