Good vocational education and training (VET) is the basis of a learning economy and plays a crucial role in strengthening society’s innovative capacity, according to the Netherlands scientific council for government policy (Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid, WRR).

To ensure VET’s ability to maintain this position, a range of policy measures has been introduced in recent years.

  • The VET qualification framework has been revised and sector-based knowledge centres reorganised to improve macro-efficiency at system level.
  • From school year 2016-17, all VET schools have to adopt the revised framework with lesser qualifications, but more regional-specific programme elements.
  • From August 2015 onwards, only the national foundation for cooperation between VET and labour market (Samenwerking Beroepsonderwijs Bedrijfsleven, SBB) will be responsible for quantity and quality of work placements, matching skills supply and demand and maintenance of the qualification framework.
  • Another contribution to macro-efficiency is reducing the nominal duration of VET level-4 programmes. It is now possible to complete these programmes within three years, which also shortens the VET route to higher education (BA level) by one year.
  • A new combined learning pathway has been introduced, allowing practice-oriented students, who might otherwise fail to complete a programme, to stay in education. At the same time, new ‘excellence programmes’ will be developed by VET schools to achieve higher levels of workmanship.
  • To support and match the supply and demand of innovative skills, EUR 100 million has been made available through a regional VET investment fund 2014-18 (Regionaal Investeringsfonds mbo - DUO). VET schools and regional stakeholders can use this fund to participate in innovative and sustainable public-private partnerships.
  • Starting in 2015, an additional annual budget of EUR 75 million will be made available to improve the quality of technical and other VET programmes, such as by investment in new and expensive technology.

It is widely believed that combining system evaluation and targeted innovation will result in growing appreciation for workmanship and Dutch VET among students, their parents and industry.

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