In a move to strengthen the relationship between schools and the labour market, Dutch senior secondary VET schools can apply to join the Making room for the region initiative, which aims to develop qualifications in cooperation with region-based enterprises. Although qualifications are created at national level, this initiative allows VET schools to define learning outcomes in cooperation with regional partners, and to design education programmes responsive to regional developments. The proposal, from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture initiative, was agreed in the Cabinet meeting on 9 May 2018.
The launch of Making room for the region was agreed within the 2017 Confidence in the future coalition agreement. One of the priorities of this agreement is to enable VET schools to be responsive to regional labour market needs. The initiative is also in line with the recently agreed VET agreement 2018-22 (Bestuursakkoord 2018-22) concluded between the Ministry of Education Science and Culture and VET-schools in February 2018. Regional and sectoral based innovation in VET are key aims of this agreement.
Validation of the current national VET qualification framework is based on a set of time-consuming regulations and procedures. The process lacks flexibility and cannot adjust qualifications to labour market developments in time. This initiative will provide evidence of whether regional qualifications can solve the problem.
Programmes to be developed within the framework of this experiment are not completely regional; all qualifications still consist of compulsory national section (including primarily general subjects), a compulsory regional section and one or more elective modules. The regional section and elective modules are developed regionally by teachers and experts from regional companies.
A secondary aim of the initiative is to strengthen teacher ownership of programme development, giving them the opportunity to share education programme design with labour market experts.
A maximum of fifteen schools can participate in this project. The first phase will start in 2019/20 with the participation of five schools. It is planned that ten more schools will participate in the project in 2020/21. It is not yet decided when schools can express their interest and how the fifteen participating schools will be selected.