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Hidden welfare and ghost students

1 June 2007 - Amsterdam has solved the job placement problem and the welfare agency is improving, various experts said at a crowded meeting organised by the FNV Bondgenoten trade union. However, there was also criticism.

Ed Biesbroek said he was ‘pretty pissed off’ by a recent report, which said that the large cities do not have good job placement programmes. According to Biesbroek, responsible for the Labour Market and Education Platform, the problem has been solved in Amsterdam.

This was contradicted by Mustafa Ayranci of the Turkish organisation HTIB, who said that students come to him who have tried more than thirty times to get a job placement without success. This was confirmed by Patricia Linhard, owner of a fashion shop and a candidate for Parliament.

Edward Neering of the Herstelling job seekers programme criticised the Amsterdam successes. Good that only 475 young people are still receiving social assistance, he said, but that figure is painting a rosy picture.

According to Neering, two to two and a half thousand young people formally do not receive social assistance anymore, but they receive an allowance that equals social assistance. He further said that many young people are formally in school, but in fact stay at home.

The Herstelling was presented as a successful programme, which provides work experience for young people who renovate the forts of the Stelling van Amsterdam. Some welfare agency staff however would look down upon the programme, because those who work there have to get up early in the morning and eat their lunch in a site hut.

One of the students who were present found that the mentality of young people was neglected. “All kinds of nice programmes are mentioned here, but no one says to young people, why don’t you get out of your chair, go to school”.

Shop owner Linhard said that the mentality of young people is the most important barrier to their participation on the labour market. “When I hire people, the only criterion I use is whether they are friendly and loyal to their colleagues”. Many young people would lack these qualities.

She would have liked to bring the students working at her shop to the meeting, but one was to busy raising her child, and the other had recently reported sick. “Do you report sick, or take an aspiring, that is the issue”.

This was going too far, found Rutger Groot Wassink of the Netherlands Trade Union Confederation FNV. “How dare you suggest that it is only a matter of taking an aspirin?” Of course there are young people who have a mentality problem, but one should not pretend that that is the most important problem, said Groot Wassink, who argued for better education.

Photo: De Herstelling


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