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Linking education and the employment market in the Hague region
Throughout the Netherlands, local economies are threatened by a shortage of skilled workers in the longer term. The Hague region, which is home to some 1 million people, is facing a shortage of skilled professionals in the technical sector, employees for the care sector and secondary school teachers. In addition, the Municipality of The Hague is concerned about young people’s lack of interest in starting their own business and the low number of trainee posts and work placements available to young people. But we also see new opportunities in emerging sectors that are linked to Peace, Justice and Security.
Are our education sector and the employment market still effectively aligned? The Municipality has conferred with employers, the education sector and local and regional government representatives on how to better align The Hague’s educational programmes to the regional employment market. The Municipality’s policy agenda Geslaagd in het vak: leren en werken effectief verbinden (Professional success: effectively linking learning and work) served as a foundation for this dialogue. This policy agenda outlines a number of key objectives, which will primarily require a dedicated effort on the part of local schools and employers, sectors and specific professional groups (e.g. career counsellors and work placement coordinators).
Employers, the education sector and the neighbouring municipalities were all invited to respond and the policy agenda was discussed in a number of consultation platforms. At the working conference held on December 8th, 2011, over 200 participants entered into passionate discussions about a wide range of themes. This extensive dialogue resulted in 2012-2015 action agenda linking education and the employment market in the hague region professional success the formulation of an Action Agenda for the region entitled Geslaagd in het vak, onderwijs en arbeidsmarkt verbinden in Haaglanden, 2012 – 2015 (Professional success: linking education and the employment market in the Hague region, 2012-2015).
On June 28th, 2012, 46 regional partners, including employers, boards of education and municipalities, formally approved the Action Agenda. The document has bundled the opportunities in this region into six key objectives, which incorporate a total of 29 actions. The purpose of all these efforts and collaborative ventures is to ensure the smooth interaction of the regional education sector and employment market, and to narrow the gap between the region’s educational programmes and the job market.
All parties involved can exchange their ideas and experiences within the digital community www.geslaagdinhetvak.nland via various social media.
The Action Agenda is both open and dynamic; parties can add further points for action. In the autumn of 2013, we will organise a working conference in which the participants can share their results and exchange knowledge in a number of workshops. We intend to ask various other European cities whether they can share with conference visitors their experiences and best practices in aligning the education sector and the employment market in their region. In addition, they can take on the role of critical friend and provide feedback on developments in The Hague and the wider region.
The retirement of many older employees in the technical sector, combined with a growing demand for qualified technicians, has led to a growing need in the Hague region for qualified personnel in this sector. At the same time, there is only a limited number of new technicians to meet this demand, due to the very low number of students in technical degree programmes. This makes it more and more difficult for companies to attract qualified personnel and, as a result, there is a strong risk that the local supply of technical services will come under pressure. Training courses in this sector offer many young people a better chance of finding an attractive job than some ‘white-collar’ studies. Therefore, this key objective serves two purposes: facilitating a sufficient supply of new technical personnel to businesses and institutions and increasing job opportunities for young people.
We need to lay the foundations for a solid supply of new employees in the care and welfare sector. It is conservatively estimated that, around 2025, the Hague care sector will have a shortage of some 12,000 employees. That is why the care sector, besides training as many people as possible, needs to invest robustly in the development of labour-saving innovations. The main objective is to recruit sufficient – and sufficiently qualified – staff in the care and welfare sector, with a strong emphasis on care for the elderly.
The shortage of teaching staff pertains particularly to secondary schools. To address this issue, we need to ensure that young people starting out on the employment market earn a teaching qualification, and offer further education that provides professionals the right qualifications for a teaching post. In addition, we need to get the ‘hidden reserves’ and people with a different career background interested in teaching, so that they follow extra training or attend a teacher training programme for a qualification. The objective is to ensure an adequate supply of teaching staff (both in terms of quantity and quality) for secondary schools in the Hague region.
The Hague is known the world over as the City of Peace and Justice. Indeed, Peace & Justice and Security are two promising sectors within the city’s local economy. The Security cluster in particular has strong economic potential. It is extremely important that the region be able to offer this sector an adequate supply of qualified personnel. To optimally exploit the growth opportunities found in this sector, The Hague needs to develop relevant degree programmes. Our objective is for companies and national and international organisations to view the regional educational institutions as a natural partner – a partner to share their knowledge with and to turn to for an ample supply of qualified personnel who can meet the specific needs of the sector.
A large share of our younger generation is likely to be entrepreneurs for at least some part of their career. To ensure that today’s youth will be able to navigate the future employment market effectively, it is vital to develop their entrepreneurial skills and attitude. This will ultimately strengthen The Hague’s economy, in which small-sized businesses and selfemployed professionals play an increasingly important role. Our objective is to devote more attention to entrepreneurship during career orientation and counselling sessions and within study programmes, so that the likelihood of young people starting their own business is increased.
Many young people find it difficult to gain a realistic idea of their future profession, which in
turn hinders them in choosing the right study or training course. Effective career orientation
is based on objective information about the various professions and job opportunities within
specific sectors and fields. This is why the municipalities and the educational institutions in
the Hague region have set up the website www.bekijkjetoekomstnu.nl (“take a look at
your future now”).
Besides a solid career orientation process, young people need the right trainee post or work placement to get their career off to a good start. Our aim is to offer them a good idea of their employment prospects in the various sectors currently facing staff shortages and to enable them to make well-founded decisions with regard to their study and career.
Together, these key objective form a concrete ambition for the 2012-2015 period. The partners aim to achieve the following targets:
The result should be that more people have both the relevant skills and the motivation to work in jobs that suit them as individuals. Over the course of 2013, we will be expanding the Action Agenda with new actions for the period 2015-2018. We welcome any experiences that other European cities might wish to share regarding the development of their approach. Who knows: maybe this will even lead to partnerships and the exchange of knowledge between different administrations.