Youth and employment

Young people in the Netherlands are obliged to attend school until they are 18 years old, or have achieved a basic qualification. It may be in secondary vocational education (MBO level 2), senior general secondary education (HAVO) or pre-university education (VWO). The government is actively combating school dropout. There are regulations for under-18s who are working. Unemployed young people receive assistance from central government to find a job.

Restrictions on working under 18

There are restrictions on the types of work young people under the age of 18 years are allowed to do. It must be age-appropriate, and not overly taxing or dangerous. There is also a legal limit on the number of hours they are allowed to work per day. Internships, vacation jobs and part-time work are allowed within these limits.

Tackling youth unemployment

At a time of economic crisis, like now, young people are especially vulnerable. Bringing down youth unemployment is therefore an important goal of the Dutch government.

Central government is investing €50 million in 2013 and 2014 to get more young people into work. In addition, an ambassador for tackling youth unemployment has been appointed for a two-year period up to 2015. The government wants to join employers in improving job market opportunities for young people by bringing in the following measures:

  • Creating an extra 10,094 jobs combining work and study. The youth unemployment ambassador agreed this on the government’s behalf with employers and employees in October 2013.
  • Employers can qualify for financial support by making agreements in their sector about (more) training placements including those combining work and study. The government helps by relaxing the regulations and/or contributing financially.
  • The government contributes 50% of the funding for agreements that help to create more jobs for young people. These include joint schemes by employers’ organisations and trade unions. €600 million is available for a two-year period.

Reducing the number of school dropouts

The School Ex programme is designed to reduce school dropout, especially among students in secondary vocational education (MBO). MBO certificate-holders with moderate to poor job prospects are encouraged to enrol in further studies to increase their chances on the job market. Alternatively, they can get on-the-job training, which should also boost their chances of finding work soon.

Technology Pact

In the near future, people with technical skills will be in great demand. The government has signed a technology pact with the education sector, employers and trade unions. It contains practical plans for making technical education more relevant to the labour market.