Submitted by UIA admin on Mon, 12/19/2016 - 12:00
Challenge addressed

BRIDGE addresses the urgent urban challenge of better aligning young people’s educational choices with future labour market needs. Rapid transformation of many sectors of the Rotterdam economy has already started to change the skills that are required from the workforce. The associated unprecedented new economic opportunities and challenges will drastically change labour market needs, qualification and skill gaps are expected to grow significantly. This is especially urgent in the case of young people who grow up in deprived areas.

The target area of South Rotterdam (200.000 inhabitants) has major disadvantages across key socio-economic indicators compared to the rest of Rotterdam and the country. Unemployment is at 21%, 32% of the children grow up in poverty and 39% of children have parents with no/low formal education. First and second generation migrants make up 74% of the population in the focus areas of South Rotterdam. In this context, young people make career choices that lack a realistic labour market perspective. The result is a persistent situation in which although the work is there, many of the 2.000 young people from South Rotterdam annually entering the labour market cannot realistically compete. Neither in the current, nor in the EU vision of a green digital economy.


Solution proposed

The proposed innovative urban action ensures that by 2020, 50% of secondary vocational training students in South Rotterdam, will have chosen a career in one of the major growth sectors. This ambitious goal will be achieved through close cooperation between employers, schools, national and local government. Pupils will follow a programme centered on the opportunities relating to the Green Digital Economy major growth sectors. Bringing together all 68 primary schools, 20 secondary schools and 3 vocational schools in South Rotterdam, all pupils and their parents will take part in the programme. This career and talent orientation programme will start in primary school (age 9) and end when students enter the labour market.

The crucial element in the programme is the Career Start Guarantee. Employers will offer 600 pupils per year a Career Start guarantee (420 for technology sectors and 180 for healthcare) at the moment they enter secondary vocational education and need to make the most crucial subject and career choices. Provided that the pupil chooses the training that the labour market needs, an employer will commit in advance to that individual with a guaranteed career start after graduation. Impact investment instruments (public subsidy based impact investing, social return on investment and social impact bonds) are an integral part of the project, supporting scaling and mainstreaming of the programme.

  • Gemeente Rotterdam
  • Metropoolregio Rotterdam Den Haag - Organised agglomeration
  • SEOR B.V. - Research center
  • Hogeschool Rotterdam - Rotterdam University of Applied Science
  • RebelGroup Executives BV- Private Company
Expected results
  • A continuous actualised overview of future orientated relevant skills and jobs
  • Yearly, 1.800 pupils form 9 years up will start an intensive and innovative career orientation program
  • Yearly 600 pupils take up the offer of a Career Start Guarantee
  • 16.000 pupils and their parents are reached by the skills development programme that includes a digital talent portfolio
  • A 30% shift of students towards a study in promising sectors
  • On the long run: Career start Guarantees are expected to decrease unemployment by 20% for recent graduates
  • Over 300 employers committed
  • Decrease in vocational student drop outs by 10%.
  • A sound defined monitoring plan to provide evidence for the economic, financial and social impact for continuation and replication
  • A clear predefined set of criteria and for continuation into the second phase (2020-­2025) and continuation until 2032
  • Continuation after 2019 through private­ public financial instruments of up to € 3.000.000
Main milestones

February 2017: Start implementation career orientation programme. Start acquiring new Career Start Guarantees by working out the arrangements and agreements with employers. Yearly this must lead to 600 pupils taking up a Career Starting Guarantee. Career Start Garantees are offered to pupils in the final class of the secondary school, if they choose a vocational training with a high job potential in the future economy

December 2017: Parent empowerment program developed. Goal is to train 60 teachers in the importance of career guidance and skill development to pupils at an early age. And also to take initiative in involving parents and guardians in career guidance and skill development of the pupils. Future Jobs and Skills implementation agenda for the next Economy developed. Set of indicators for calculation of the economic, financial and social impact

August 2018: Start Next Economy Mentor programme for students in secondary education. Through this mentor activity programme, 3.000 pupils in Rotterdam South will be receiving 1-on-1 mentoring from a student from the Hogeschool Rotterdam who will receive education credits (ECTS) for this.

October 2019: All schools in South Rotterdam organize a career orientation program for their pupils from age 9 until the student enters the labor market In 2019 all pupils work with a digital talent portfolio to support them in discovering and understanding their talents and passions, and how these fit into the labour market. 1-on-1 mentoring of pupils from Rotterdam South that are in secondary education. Additional support to pupils in order to help them to qualify for a higher level of graduation.

Through BRIDGE activities and interventions, a total of 1.800 students (600 per year) will start an education in a promising sector with the aid of a Career Start Guarantee

Short and long term monitoring and impact evaluation

"This financial support from Europe is a fantastic acknowledgement for innovative career guidance developed by mentors, deans, teachers and employers for the pupils on in Rotterdam South. This is a huge impulse enabling us to do even more for the young people in Rotterdam South."

Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam and chairman of the National Urgency Programme South Rotterdam
The project in numbers
200 000
inhabitants live in the BRIDGE target area of South Rotterdam
is the unemployment rate in South Rotterdam
of the children in South Rotterdam grow up in poverty
of the children have parents with no/low formal education
Contact of the project
Cleo Pouw
Project Manager
Eddy Adams
UIA expert

Project News

Royal interest in the career start guarantee

The National Urgency Programme South Rotterdam (NPRZ) career start guarantee attracts considerable attention at home and abroad. This part of the UIA BRIDGE project regularly receives telephone calls and e-mails, and presentations are often given on the subject, as are guided tours. Just before the summer holidays, a very special working visit took place: Her Majesty Queen Máxima spent an entire afternoon in South Rotterdam hearing about the efforts being made to provide young people in the area with a solid start on the labour market.

Head straight for them!

How can one reach young people who'd rather not be reached? At least: not by organisations with (somewhat of) a government association. Young people who have role models (often peers), but have no desire to follow in their footsteps when the message that's directed at them smells of government propaganda. The BRIDGE campaign's communication approach has shown that live contact can provide surprisingly positive results.


School culture vs Street culture

Queen Maxima visiting the project

Her Majesty Queen Maxima visiting the project


BRIDGE project logo

Student mentors

Rotterdma bridge employers

Employers introducing themselves to young people

Bridge rotterdam young people

Students learning a technical job

rotterdma bridge UIA young people

Young people working on technical design project


Rotterdam young bridge employment

Young people at career guidance event

bridge rotterdam UIA jobs

Young people and teachers working on ICT skills

Bridge rotterdam UIA jobs

Parents attending a career guidance event