Ahmad, from Syria, is the 1,500th participant in the VOORwerk project, which has been carried out at 18 COA-locations since 2016. Trained as a pharmacist, Ahmad would like to do something with this specialization. As a first step in building a future in the Netherlands, he wants to start with voluntary work.
Status holders indicate that their integration, especially in the labour market, is not always easy. However, it is important for them to be able to find work quickly when they start living in a municipality. Having a job is important for their integration: to gain self-confidence, to explore society, to meet people, and to learn the language.
In order to facilitate the search for work, status holders who are still in an asylum seekers' centers can start preparing for their integration through so-called 'early integration and participation' programmes. These include Dutch language lessons or classes about Dutch society, and the possibility of volunteering outside the centers. To prepare them for the Dutch labour market, status holders can participate in the VOORwerk project. This project is an initiative of the COA, IOM and Foundation for Refugee Students UAF, and is financed by the European AMIF fund.
The aim of the VOORwerk project is to prepare newcomers for the Dutch labour market by offering training, individual coaching, and learning on the job training within companies or organizations. VOORwerk participants learn to recognize expectations of potential employers, and the importance of ‘soft skills’ and how to develop them. Examples of soft skills are personal and communicative skills required on entering the labour market.
Participant Awate explains: "The advice I received, such as being proactive, arriving on time and acknowledging the importance of networking were very useful during my search for work." Awate now works as an interpreter and trainer at VluchtelingenWerk Noord-Holland.
Municipalities and other involved partners indicate that through the training and supervision of VOORwerk status holders are well-prepared when they come to live in a municipality - when they will actively have to look for a job.