European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network Database, ELGPN Database

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Name of the good/interesting practice/initiative/policy

Learning & Working


The Netherlands

I am proposing that this example will be published also in the KSLLL database


1. Background

What makes this an example of good/interesting practice/initiative/policy?
- The motivation of the initiative (What is the history/background of the policy?)
- Linkages with LLG policy priorities (Please add references to other national/EU policies or documents)
- Participants
The project directorate Learning & Working has developed a method to successfully translate EU- and national-level goals with regards to adult learning to concrete local-level actions. Stimulating and facilitating regional cooperation between local and regional governments, public employment services like the Centre for Work and Income (CWI) and the Social Security Agency (UWV), educational institutions, employers and employees is the heart of the project and has proven to be the key to it’s success.

• The motivation of the initiative (What is the history/background of the policy?)

The interdepartemental project directorate Learning & Working is a joint project of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment with the involvement of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Food Quality. It was started in 2005 to take concrete steps forward to advance adult learning.

• Linkages with LLG policy priorities (Please add references to other policies or documents)

Obviously the activities of the project directorate Learning & Working are closely connected to (the national implementation of) the Lisbon objectives on training and education, specifically the following:
- 20% of the Dutch between the ages of 25 and 64 should be following a course or educational programme in 2010. The Lisbon objectives state that 12,5% of the adult population should participate in education and training. In 2000 the Dutch percentage already exceeded this with a score of 15,6%. Therefore a more ambitious national goal was formulated for 2010.
- 50% of the working population should be highly educated in 2020.
- 80% of the Dutch working population should have a basic qualification (MBO level 2) in 2010.

• Participants

Adults in broadest sense

Aims and targets
- Objectives of the initiative (What did the policy set out to achieve?)
- Target group
- Methods applied to reach the objective (technological and /or pedagogical)
The intention of the project directorate was to take concrete actions. This was implemented and stimulated by formulating concrete objectives that were to be reached at the end of the project period, initially planned at the start of 2008. The goals and objectives from the 2005 action programme related to the intended regional infrastructure for adult learning were the following:
- Ensuring that more young people and adults combine their job or job-seeking efforts with training and education that will lead them to acquiring a vocational and educational training qualification.
- Employers and employees, education providers and local governments in the region conclude collaboration agreements (at least ten in 2005) concerning the creation of work based learning in the region.
- These collaboration agreements will result in a total of 15,000 work-based learning programmes being realized before the start of 2008. This concerns learning-working programmes aimed at integration into the labour process or at earning an occupational qualification, possibly in combination with learning the Dutch language.
- The interdepartmental project directorate for Learning & Working has resolved to realize 20,000 APL procedures (Accreditation of Prior Learning) before the start of 2008.
- Setting up easily accessible and independent contact desks for learning and working in the region is to provide employed people, job-seekers and employers with low-threshold access to career advice, assessment of competencies acquired and education opportunities.

2. Implementation

Strategy and actions (Please describe the approach adopted to make the reform work and any actions taken.)
- Level of implementation (national, regional etc.)
- Implementation (description)
When the project directorate Learning & Working was set up, it was decided that an unorthodox and dynamic approach was needed to achieve progress with adult learning. In the years before, there had been plenty of discussions, expert meetings had taken place and many policy documents were written, but very little action had been undertaken. The establishment of an interdepartemental and temporary project directorate was a change in approach. A pro-active, almost activistic, mentality focused on regional cooperation was chosen.

In the first phase of setting up an infrastructure many parties in the region (employers, employees, education providers and local governments) were consulted concerning concrete objectives. They were asked to establish these objectives in regional collaboration agreements. It started with establishing contacts with regional partners in four regions with regard to setting up such an infrastructure for APL, including career advice and services on educational opportunities. Based on the experiences gained in these four regions, similar initiatives were launched in other regions.

• Level of implementation (national, regional etc.)
Regional implementation , national driven

• Implementation (description)
Several actions were taken to encourage and involve more regional parties. Among others these steps were:
- Conduct discussions with interested parties to explore their interest in collaboration.
- Analyse existing initiatives in order to gain greater insight into the opportunities and possible bottlenecks in the process of launching extra work-based learning programmes in the region.
- Organize account management in order to support parties in finding partners and closing deals.
- Provide temporary financial contributions (subsidies) in order to stimulate and support the organizational capacity of parties.
- With regards to the project plans the account manager from the project directorate Learning & Working played various roles in the implementation ranging from support, steering and feedback up to evaluation.
- Gain more insight into and increase access to financial resources such as subsidies from the European Social Fund.
- Organize a national communication campaign in order to get individuals and employers to invest more in training and to support regional projects, make funds available to them for communication.
- Organise interactive meetings, workshops and work conferences for regional partners.
- Trace any (institutional) bottlenecks and, if possible, solve them or have them solved.
- Monitor, both quantitative and qualitative, results to distinguish successful (and unsuccessful) projects, so other projects may learn from their experiences.

Monitoring and evaluation
- What has been put in place for monitoring and evaluation?
- What actors are involved?
An adult learning infrastructure was created virtually covering the whole country. Today there are over 40 partnerships. With the number of parties involved in each of these ranging from five to sometimes fifteen, there are literally hundreds of local organizations taking part in our effort to take adult learning in the Netherlands to the next level.

3. Outcomes

Achievements (Please describe the main outcomes/results according to the following headings. Each option can be answered - up to 50 words)
- Specific results
- Cost effectiveness
- Budget
- Innovative aspects
• Specific results
See above
• Cost effectiveness
Every two years the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science carries out a big research about the external valuation of directorates. This research evaluates directorates in six areas: Transparency, understandability of communication, quality of policy, quality of employees, customer driven and consistency. On all levels the project directorate Learning & Working scores better than other directorates

• Budget
Participating monitoring is used in combination with more formal monitoring by independent agencies. In other projects or subsidies, where government officials are far more monitoring from a distance, less FTE is necessary. The way account management is designed in this project, is more expensive.

• Innovative aspects
The approach of the project directorate Learning & Working is innovative in four different ways. First, the role of national government as both partner in the region and subsidiser. Second, both on the local as the national level a break with traditional structures. Third, as a result of more cooperation between regional and national level, difficulties are made explicit far more quickly. Fourth, partner selection is based on innovative criteria, which strengthens the progress of the regional projects.

Success factors (What key success factors have led to or prevented success?)
- Lessons learnt
- Unintended impacts (Have there been any unintended impacts? Positive or negative?)
Success factors (What key success factors have led to or prevented success? Up to 200 words)
Using a whole new approach compared to the years before, the target number of work-based trajectories was easily surpassed. In terms of network, infrastructure and innovation, much more was achieved than anticipated. Only APL lagged behind, though the number of trajectories completed tripled in comparison to the years before 2005.
• Lessons learnt
Even though an important push has been given, the project directorate’s activities in relation to the whole Dutch society remain modest. External spin-off effects and as mentioned in the previous paragraph further concept-development and implementation of our experiences into new policies are all needed to give this ‘big push’ in adult learning in the Netherlands.

Unintended impacts (Have there been any unintended impacts? Positive or negative? Up to 100
On top of the structural challenges we will have to deal with the impact of an economic crisis whose full scope remains to be grasped. The full package of actions by the Dutch government is still being discussed at the time of writing. It is very likely that the project directorate Learning & Working and it’s regional projects will be involved in the realisation of these actions.

Strengths and weaknesses
- What areas of the policy can we learn lessons from?
- Are there still challenges ahead?
In the Learning & Working project, no blue print was used to force the partner selection; an open intake was made possible. This bottom-up process formed the basis for composition of new partnerships in the region. Beside this innovative approach to forming new partnerships, it is obliged to involve employers or employer representatives. This enhances the sustainability for following years, when there will be no financial stimulus on cooperation. This way, companies themselves are involved in the project, which means more focus on human resource management and development.

4. Additional narrative description of the policy/practice/initiative


Additional information

Name of contact
Amnon Owed

Role (in policy initiative)
Project Advisor

Organization name
Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment

Anna van Hannoverstraat 4, 2595BJ The Hague

+31 70 333 5413

+31 70 3334318


Website address

Documents and publications
- Carrying on with Learning & Working: Plan of approach 2008-2011
- Reinforcing Learning & Working: Action programme 2005-2007

Attached files


This information was provided/updated by:
Peter van Deursen

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ELGPN, good practice, initiative, interesting practice, policy, career management skills, access, co-operation, employed, The Netherlands