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Job guarantees as a weapon against youth unemployment

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BRIDGE Go for a job! event Rotterdam
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Suppose you choose an MBO (secondary vocational) programme and the school tells you right away that you are guaranteed a job when you graduate. Sounds too good to be true? But that is exactly what is happening in the neighbourhood of Rotterdam South. Almost 500 so-called Career Start Guarantees (CSG) will be granted this year to students from Zuid who enrol in an engineering, food, healthcare or construction programme. To raise more awareness about this unique programme, the Gaan voor een Baan! (Go for a job!) event was held in early November. The event was packed with hundreds of students from Rotterdam South.

The granting of CSGs is one of the activities that is designed to combat youth unemployment in Rotterdam South. Unfortunately, the down-river district still tops that list. The number of unemployed young people is high and the subject matter tough. At the same time, the economy is improving and there is growing demand from employers in the construction, food, healthcare and engineering sectors for greater workforce capacity. The career start guarantee was therefore established in the pursuit of bringing these two developments together (and generating a positive outcome).

The CSG is a product of the National Programme for Rotterdam South (NPRZ). The participants in this partner programme found that MBO students from Rotterdam South overwhelmingly pursue jobs in the financial administration sector, educating themselves into unemployment with these qualifications, since they too often fail to deliver a job. Their choice of education programme is often based on outdated ideas. They (and most certainly their parents) still entertain the notion that working in the engineering or food sector is ''dirty work '' that pays very little and has no future. They often lack the awareness that this kind of mind set is outdated. Automation has dramatically changed work practices in the engineering sector. The notion of low salaries is another misconception that has long been proven false. The starting salary in the engineering, construction, food and healthcare sectors, for example, is higher than that of most jobs in the financial administration sector (insofar as the latter jobs still exist...).

The finding that there are misconceptions about educational programmes and career prospects is an important part of the communication campaign that will soon be launched. The campaign - one of the tools for combating youth unemployment - aims to bring the CSG to the attention of young people, as well as teachers, deans and parents. The job guarantee and high starting salary are the USPs of the campaign. Initial experiences with the CSG and contacts with young people, for example, have revealed that young people are open to reconsidering their education choices when they hear that training in healthcare, engineering, food or construction guarantees them a job and a high starting salary.

This also turned out to be the case at the Gaan voor een Baan! (Go for a job!) event in early November, which drew hundreds of students looking to choose an MBO programme. During the event, food, healthcare, engineering and construction employers and faculties gave presentations about their respective activities. The message was clear and consistent: choose an educational programme with a career start guarantee and you are guaranteed to have a job at the end of it. The reactions during the presentation in the plenary part of the gathering were particularly notable. Hearing about the starting salaries in the different sectors made (an almost visible impact on) many of the young attendees and their parents, giving them plenty of food for thought. Or as one young attendee loudly put it: "Oh man, that's a whole lotta money."

More information about the CSG can be obtained from Frank Schutte at f.schutte@rotterdam.nl

Author: Edwin Cornelisse, communications adviser for BRIDGE and the National Programme for Rotterdam Zuid (NPRZ).