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Journey to Work: A Success Story of Working and Living!

Pieter van Schie
Valoda: EN
Document available also in: FR


Gardening tools and clothing on a beautiful path

With youth unemployment still at high levels (11.2% in the UK) and Brexit in progress, many of today’s young people are getting off to a slow start in the job market, a situation that may well translate into lower lifetime earnings. Journey to Work 4 (JTW4) aimed to improve the employment prospects and earning potential, providing a wrap-around package of support which included a work placement, language acquisition and the benefits of an intercultural experience. JTW4 participant John said: ‘My employer was really happy with me, I was actually offered a job… How about that?’ The Journey to Work programme is also known as ‘Going Dutch’, but this time it was not so appropriate – the journey was not only going to Holland, but also to Spain.


Success Story

The Journey to Work programme has been very succesfull the last couple of years. Journey to Work let young people (up to 30 years old) figure out which way to go and is designed for participants from Scotland with the following characteristics:

* recent VET graduates

* no or lack of work experience

* on (the verge of) social benefit

* unemployed & multi-problems

Trailer Journey to Work: 


Traditional Dutch houses on a street in the city of Dordrecht


Kyle: ‘Meeting the people I would be spending my time with and my host family was scary at first, but I eventually settled down and started to relax. During my first week or so I was quite quiet and reserved, but I began to open up as I became more comfortable. By the end of the trip everything felt normal and I was feeling like I was part of a family away from home. My host family were lovely and made it very easy to enjoy my stay. We had access to everything we needed to survive for ourselves and were told all of the things we could do in the local area to enjoy ourselves and get the supplies we needed. By the final week I was able to go shopping confidently by myself and understand the cashiers when they were speaking Dutch enough to get by (for the most part).’

John: ‘I worked in the Dordrecht Garden Centre Tuinwereld, which is open every day of the week. They also sell different types of furniture and have a wide selection of garden patios. They are the most visited garden centre in Dordrecht. My work includes selling tools and furniture and lifting equipment. It was a good opportunity for me to develop teamwork skills. My employer was really happy with me, I was actually offered a job… How about that?’ John was working in a warehouse attached to a garden centre with his peer Jonathan.

Kyle: ‘I thouroughly enjoyed the work I was doing, as it let me work to a specification while being able to express myself creatively, designing logos and creating graphics for blogs and websites was something I very much enjoyed doing. During my research work I was able to learn a lot about The Netherlands and Dutch culture while looking up the things I needed to for my work, it was interesting and eye opening and it kept what might have been mundane tasks interesting. I am very happy with the work I was tasked with and would happily continue doing similar work.’


Getting work experience by doing work experience

Journey to Work has been very successful: in total 15 participants (three female and 12 male) finished the project successfully. The learning outcomes were set by Werkcenter Scotland (WS) and each learner individually, to get a more tailored outcome for each participant. The young people were a mix of those currently participating in vocational training and recent graduates. The participants targeted were on the verge of entering the social benefits system in collaboration with Capital City Partnership (CCP), their Joined Up For Jobs (JufJ) network (e.g. Access to Industry, Through Care and Aftercare, etc.) and Skills Development Scotland (SDS). Ingeus and their UK Work programme.

JTW4 and its model, the 1-2-3 methodology (based on EU Good Practice 2006, 2012 & 2014) delivered work experience to 15 recent graduates from VET schools. We provided an upgrade for their CV as they are always asked by potential employers about their work experience before they even have the chance to obtain any work experience.

Werkcenter Scotland and host organisations Dutch Foundation of Innovation Welfare 2 Work and AEBL used their approach to support and guide the participants in getting & improving knowledge, skills and qualifications in order to facilitate personal development and responsibility to obtain basic work experience and qualifications and/or participation on the local, national and EU labour market. DFW2W has a very broad range of apprenticeships in the fields of welfare, logistics, retail, manufacturing, construction, administration, agriculture and tourism.


A young graphic designer's hands using a computer and surrounded by colour charts

The 1-2-3 Methodology of Werkcenter has three phases:

Assessment (1): 4-8 weeks (Preparation)

Development (2): 6 weeks (Internship)

Job Mediation (3): 4-20 weeks (Job Mediation)

In the assessment phase participants were selected through an intake, and preparatory workshops (this includes Skype job interviews, assessments, motivational letters, CVs and home work assignments). They each undertook preparation training and Dutch language courses. This is required to get the young participants ready for the internships abroad. A young person who demonstrated discipline, correct behaviour and motivation was rewarded by being allowed to move to the Development Phase in Holland or Spain. This is then followed up by a further intensive welfare to work programme delivered on the young person’s return to Scotland. During their six weeks of work experience in Holland or Spain they attend Dutch and Spanish language courses as well as undertake cultural activities.


We have achieved the following results with our 15 participants (seven Special Needs & 15 Fewer Opportunities: the seven special needs were also young people with fewer opportunities):

- 90% (objective 75%): Nine out of ten participants of the first three flows (of two, three and five young people) currently have a job. One has some health issues and is recovering. So all participants of flows one and two are in work or in education. Regarding the participants of flow four, who finished at the end of March 2019, currently three are in a job, One is following an apprenticeship programme. One has signed up for college again. So in total it would be 86.6%.

- Three young people actually got offered a job in Holland and one in Spain: Pretty good!



An abstract shot of Kyle using a computer to complete design work

The Journey to Work programme is partly funded by the European Commission and aims to improve the job prospects and employment opportunities of young people. Journey to Work takes young people to European locations to undertake work placements and gain real work experience. Participants build key skills that prepare them for work and work placements often lead to employment. 

Werkcenter Scotland was established in 2012 and helps to find young people Journey to Work placements. Werkcenter methodology used on the Journey to Work 4 programme adheres to EU best practice. 



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