Minister regarding discrimination of trainees: “Good examples are more important than punishment” | Currently

“Removing invisible spots from employers is more important than imposing sanctions,” says Education Minister Robert Dijgraf. On Wednesday, he signed agreements to prevent discrimination in the field of training in higher education. According to the Minister of Education, positive examples of training companies should be highlighted.

Today, the Ministries of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) and Social Affairs and Employment (SZW) have signed a pact with colleges, universities and employer organizations mkb-nederland and vno-ncw to ban internal discrimination in higher education.

Professor of Diversity Issues at InHolland Machteld de Jong University of Applied Sciences has made agreements with business economist Wâtte Zijlstra. The sociologist with a PhD agrees with former scientist Dijkgraaf’s statement. “If employers come up with the idea that they will be punished if they make a discrimination mistake during training, you fire them away,” says De Jong.

Mkb-Nederland Chairman Jaco Vonhoff said during the signing that there will always be “bastards” among employers, who continue to discriminate against apprentices before or during their apprenticeship. Djgraf admits this, but according to him the majority of companies discriminate unconsciously or out of ignorance.

That is why the minister wants to stick to an approach based on the goodwill of the vast majority of training companies, in his opinion. “You can put a police officer on every street corner, but it’s better to teach everyone the traffic rules.”

This is what the signatories agreed on:

  • Discrimination in training is a complex issue where all actors (education, professional field, government and students), each in their own way, have a joint action and responsibility to combat discrimination in training.
  • Appropriate supervision of students in the search for, find and retain training in the context of equal opportunity.
  • Set up a media campaign for students, teachers and training supervisors.
  • Regular consultation on the concrete preparation of the statement, progress made and impact achieved.
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No specific action points or budget yet

The so-called statement against discrimination in the internship runs from 2022 to 2026. Djgraph admits that it does not yet have any concrete action points and no budget has been made for it. Rabin Baldeussing, the National Coordinator for Combating Discrimination and Racism (NCDR), also does not participate in the statement.

“The NCDR is the watchdog that keeps us vigilant,” says Dijkgraf of the government commissioner. “I’m glad he put internship discrimination on the agenda. I really need him on this subject.”

Paldiosing feels positive about the signatories’ move. “This is a really ambitious statement, taking care not only of information and guidance for students, but also of teaching staff training, curricular materials and reporting procedures,” he told NU.nl. “I am happy with that.”

“Some students just want to choose for themselves”

Baldeussing called for an end to applying for an internship in April, as it would encourage discrimination. Dijkgraaf responded in June to parliamentary questions on the matter that allocating internships is not right for every student.

“Student organizations have made it clear to me that sometimes students want to be able to choose for themselves,” the minister now says. “Training can lead to a job, so they prefer to do it in a training company that is qualified for it as well.” Dijkgraaf sees so-called phase matching as one possible means against discrimination in training.

Apply for skill training later

De Jong of the InHolland University of Applied Sciences received the same signals as Dijkgraaf. Furthermore, according to the lecturer on diversity issues, many students view applying for an internship as an important skill in their later career.

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Baldeussing says he’s been following in more detail the agreements between the various parties regarding discrimination in internships with great interest: “As far as I’m concerned, it’s time to move on with that now.”

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