News item | 23-09-2022 | 18:00
By continuing to develop, people get more pleasure and satisfaction from their work. In order to make the Dutch labor market future-proof – and to protect our knowledge economy – it is very important to focus on learning and development for adults. It also helps people to keep and grow in their job, or on the way to a new job. To stimulate learning and development during one’s career and to promote the learning culture in the workplace, the government is making 1.2 billion euros available. This is what the Ministers Van Gennip of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) and Wiersma for Primary and Secondary Education (PVO) write today – also on behalf of Ministers Dijkgraaf (Education, Culture and Science) and Adriaansens (Economic Affairs and Climate) – in a letter to House of Representatives.
Our work, and with it the labor market, is changing rapidly. Gone are the days when we all worked for the same employer for 30 years. Workers, employers and educators play a crucial role in coping with changes in work. Lifelong Development (LLO) is of great importance to keep people agile in the labor market. LLO offers employees benefits, such as: personal growth, more fun at work, appreciation and flexibility in the labor market. For employers, it contributes to finding qualified personnel, retaining existing employees and increasing productivity. The SER therefore sees good employership as a promising approach to bottlenecks in the labor market. A strong learning and development culture is also important to be able to cope with current and future societal challenges, including a shortage on the labor market, the energy transition and an aging population.
Karien van Gennip: “Most people spend a large part of their lives at work. That is good for our personal development, our social network and our sense of (self) worth. To remain permanently employable in the labor market, continuing to learn and develop is important. It can ensure that you enjoy your work more or that you can progress to another job. Nevertheless, we see that course participation has been declining in recent years and that smaller employers see fewer opportunities to encourage their people to do so, while investing in learning and development can also improve the productivity of a company. I want to change that. With this plan I want to bring about a cultural change in the labor market”.
Despite the importance of learning and development, adult course enrollment dropped from 54% to 51% between 2017 and 2020. Informal learning (learning at – and from – work) also stagnated. It is striking that, in particular, those with a practical education participate less often in learning or development processes. We also see that SMEs have less room to offer extensive learning and development programs.
To contribute to tackling these challenges, the government is making an extra 1.2 billion euros available. Of this, 500 million euros (over four years) will go to a special fund within the STAP budget for people with a maximum of an MBO 4 diploma. From the National Growth Fund (NGF), 392 million euros will be invested (partly conditionally) in developing training courses aimed at the energy transition. In addition, EUR 210 million will be released conditionally from the NGF for a better connection between vocational education and SMEs. 50.5 million euros will also be spent on language and professional skills for low-literate people, partly on a conditional basis and from the NGF. Specifically for increasing the basic skills of language, arithmetic and digital skills, a structural investment of 15 million euros will be made from 2023 in tackling low literacy. This gives municipalities more options to tackle this.
Dennis Wiersma: “Many Dutch people have never followed a course. They may need more to know where to start. Like the father who lost his job in the catering industry 3 years ago and can hardly make ends meet from welfare. Or a forklift driver who is allowed to obtain a safety certificate, but finds it difficult because he has difficulty reading. I also want that group of people to continue to develop themselves. This does not always have to be a complete training, it can also be done from the workplace. A shorter training or course is also possible.”
Joint task to realize LLO ambitions
The cabinet cannot achieve the ambitions surrounding LLO alone. Employers, workers, job seekers, social partners, sectors, R&D funds, public and private trainers, regional labor market parties, public implementers and other stakeholders are of great importance to promote the learning and development culture in the workplace. Private parties also (jointly) spend around 3.9 billion euros annually on training and development on – or from – the workplace. That is why the cabinet wants to work with them to ensure that lifelong development becomes self-evident for everyone. After all, we all benefit from a well-functioning labor market.