Evidence of effectiveness
In the first period that the School Ex Programme ran, the target for 2009 to 2010, was to help 10,000 graduates between the ages of 18 and 27 to get into another level of education or into work. In 2010, 12,000 graduates or school leavers had been helped. In 2009, 77,000 students in secondary vocation education (MBO in the Netherlands) filled in the national questionnaire, accounting for two thirds of the exam candidates for that level of MBO in the Netherlands. Of this number, 40% went on to receive a personal conversation about their future plans.
The benefits have indeed been as expected. A large numbers of students in secondary vocational education have participated in the programme, and due to its success, it was renewed for the school years 2013-2014, and 2014-2015. In the 2014 evaluation of the measure, 66% of students considered the talk and guidance they received via the programme to be “very useful”. An unexpected benefit in 2013 was that students with non-European backgrounds and young women were both groups of focus for the programme. This is because technical professions are notably in demand, and to counter stereotypical attitudes and hiring actions, young women and youths with a non-European background were given more focus within the sectoral approach of the School Ex Programme. As a local example, no real unexpected costs have arisen from the programme in the case of the Graafschap College. The programme in the Graafschap College estimated that around 150 students make use of the programme every year, and calculated the budget accordingly. This estimation was quite good as the number of students remained relatively stable and as a consequence, the budget was sufficient. Furthermore, outsourcing the survey from a call centre to tertiary education students helped reduce costs of contacting 2,500 pending graduates.
Engagement of stakeholders
Vocational education providers collaborate closely to ensure that within a given region students can be guided into programmes that fit their educational background, their preferences and job areas in the labour market that are in high demand. This also requires collaboration with the Dutch PES, the UWV, to know what sort of skills and jobs are and will be in demand in the immediate future. The stakeholders involved are the municipality, the employment services in the region (“Werkbedrijf” in Graafschap), and the vocational education and training institutes (known as ROC’s in the Netherlands). The ROCs and the School Ex programme in Graafschap monitor 18 to 23 year olds in the area and establish which of them are best suited to guide and support which of those young people. Once a month the Graafschap and VET institutes come together to compare their monitoring results and establish how to proceed. The regional stakeholders also come together to produce sectoral plans and make a link with the regional labour market. This sectoral plan is used as input when planning and carrying out the support and guidance activities for young people in the area.