Report: The Vocational Education and Training System in the Netherlands
4 September 2013
The UKCES Briefing Paper takes a look at vocational education
and training (VET) in the Netherlands. The Dutch VET system is of
interest for a number of reasons.
- Firstly, it enjoys considerable participation by young people,
with the majority of all secondary students, from the age of 16,
choosing to take a well-established, flexible and clearly
structured VET route to complete their education.
- Secondly, there are very high completion rates and good
prospects for employment. One reason for this is that training in
the workplace is mandatory. All students must spend time learning
on the job.
- Thirdly, in this system VET is driven by employer demand, via
sectorally based institutions known as knowledge centres. This
ensures that training and qualifications contain both work and
theoretical components so that employers receive workers into the
labour market with the requisite skills and experience they
- Finally, the system is underpinned and operates on the basis of
consensus with strong working relationships engendered between
employers, employees, training providers and government.
These points and more are examined by identifying the key
institutional actors involved, then describing the mechanics of the
system - the different training levels applicable to school and
work based VET pathways and then illustrating how VET is designed,
delivered and quality assured. How VET is publicly funded is also
explored. Here, the economic recession has had a severe impact on
the Dutch economy and its consequences will require a certain
degree of re-design to accommodate new budget realities. The
financial incentives, available to employers and individuals to
engage in workforce training and development, are also identified.
Again, some of these incentives are subject to modification or even
closure due to austerity measures and this paper identifies what is
likely to change.
The Briefing Paper can be found on the