Youth, Work and Hope

Moving towards a successful future

The project ‘Youth, work and hope’ examines whether and how it is possible to help more low-skilled young people find employment. In addition to focusing on young people’s individual home situation, social relations and their sense of acceptance within society, it is also important to work on a solid foundation of good skills, useful experiences, and a strong mentality.

Youth unemployment is a problem which does not have a clear-cut cause and therefore also no simple solution. Stakeholders have often already been working for many years to help young people build a successful future.  Within this project, stakeholders are invited to join forces, work together and determine how to connect these young people with opportunities that help them build their own future.



During five ‘Diners Pensants’, a group of professionals will come together to approach the problem from different angles and determine suitable actions, or which hypotheses should first be clarified through scientific research. The first Diner Pensant took place at the end of June 2016. Following this meeting, five themes were formulated which will be discussed in more depth during the upcoming meetings, as well as logical follow-up actions.

Is there a shortage of opportunities?

How can we create them together?

The topics nominated for the first Diner Pensant are ‘Attention’, ‘Opportunities’, ‘Connections’, ‘Skills’ and ‘Dreams’. Giving attention to somebody means to give them a helping hand and share your knowledge, network and experience. There are many young people who are not able to get there on their own. Giving someone attention is an important way to help them form a vision for themselves related to work.

Opportunities are primarily about practicing skills and putting knowledge into practice. The important question here is: is there a shortage of opportunities, or do some young people have difficulties to seize the opportunities that are available? In other words, is it a problem of supply or demand? Connections refers to connecting people, recognizing cultural differences and understanding that we all have prejudices. What is needed to effectively help an increasingly diverse group of young people?

Young people need skills to be able to join the job market. A frighteningly large number have insufficient reading and writing skills. In addition, concentration, discipline, coping with authority and social skills may also be lacking. Dreaming is about discovering your talent and encouraging young people to believe in themselves and their own abilities. Providing them with sufficient attention, offering opportunities, and recognizing differences, all help young people to learn to dream.

Giving attention and offering opportunities helps young people to dream

The economist: How to make a good teacher?


Education offers an excellent opportunity to give students the individualized attention they may be missing. But do teachers have enough time and skills to recognize “difficult” students, give them a boost and provide the necessary guidance? Besides teachers, who else can help to strengthen awareness? Parents, sports coaches, or others within the community?


It is a well-known problem that young people often consider themselves lucky to be offered any internship, no matter how poorly paid. Permanent contracts are a rarity. How have we come to this point? What kinds of systems are necessary and which measures should be undertaken to provide young people with needed stability?


The topic connections is central to all other topics. For example, connections is about connecting dreams with opportunities or guidance with skills. To arrange an internship or gain work experience, you need a network. A relevant network often grows from connections made during an internship. It is therefore important that existing networks are available and accessible to young people.


Social skills are of growing importance in an era of increasing automatisation and digitalisation. The challenge lies primarily in the transfer and development of social skills in order to participate fully in today’s job market, as well as future employment situations.


To be encouraged to think about the future by asking the question “what do you really want?”, is a crucial first step towards a job. Actively thinking about this question is also an exercise in increasing young people’s self-esteem.

In this project, the Goldschmeding Foundations aims to provide a platform for investigating whether and how young people can better connect with the job market and, consequently, to society as a whole. The platform consists of three groups: people that do, think, and study.

The ‘think group’ forms the heart of the platform. The think group consists of people with experience in the field, such as teachers, a young government official, a former minister or a research journalist. The ‘research group’ will test the hypotheses of the think group. They will also set up a knowledge center of literature and statistics. In this they will work together with the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, and professors of various universities. The ‘do-group’ undertakes action. This group consists of project staff who are involved on a daily basis with disadvantaged youth. This group ranges from ‘Stichting Lezen en Schrijven’ to ‘Giving Back’ and from ‘Jinc’ to ‘Netherlands Cares’.

Through this project, the Golschmeding Foundation wants to support these initiatives. The initiatives will form alliances to set up projects and tackle problems together. By connecting existing initiatives in a joint platform, we are stronger and hope to make a lasting difference for young people.


Carmen Snijders Program director at De Nieuwe Poort and program manager of the Platform Youth, Work and Hope