LAB Meeting Netherlands 2015

  1. Overview

    For the implementation an executive board (EB) has been established that was composed by representatives of the ‘Triple Helix” network of stakeholders in the region Mid-Brabant. The board acted under the authority of the steering group for economic development, education and the labour market of Mid-Brabant under the authority of the regional development organisation Midpoint. The board also acted as the local advisory board (LAB) for STYLE. The executive board was formally responsible for coordinating and guiding the research activities conducted for the project. Part of the research has been the design of an implementation plan for the years 2016-2018. That plan was based on the results of 25 interviews held with representatives of the “Triple Helix”, that is the stakeholder’s community of the regional government, the education and the business sector, and five focus-group interviews during the period March 2015-June 2015. In addition, a general stakeholders meeting was organised on the26th of May 2015. This resulted in a draft implementation plan as of July 1 2015 that was agreed by the executive board and the regional stakeholders.

    The LAB (EB) in Tilburg was responsible for the coordination of the “action research” activities of Tilburg University (TiU) and the design of a so-called execution plan to combat youth unemployment. This execution plan (Wilthagen et al. 2015) provided an overview of the type of actions and activities that need to be conducted in the period 2016-2018 to be able to attain the ambitious goal of a Youth Unemployment Free region. All stakeholders committed themselves to the plan in the various meetings to discuss it. To inform the parties a website has been issued. By examining the way of operation of the network of stakeholders we were able to draw lessons about the triggers and barriers of policy learning and transfer. In Amsterdam, we did not set up a separate LAB but consulted individual representatives of the various stakeholders, notably the policy institutions (Intermediate Professional Education (MBO) Council, the SBB Cooperation between Professional Education and Business and the Ministries of Education and Social Affairs) to discuss the VET policies for youth including the role of policy learning and transfer being the main subject of study for STYLE. These consultations were meant to learn from the views and ideas of the various stakeholders in the region notably with respect to policy learning and policy transfer on VET of the low-skilled youngsters.

    The LAB in Tilburg acted in practice as the steering group for the starting phase of the project. It took up the responsibility to coordinate the research and implementation plan in that first stage up to July 1 2015. In the second half of the year (July 1- December 31) the implementation plan was made more concrete through defining concrete projects and funding. The EB/LAB was also responsible for its coordination in this second stage of the project. In December 2015 the plan became accepted by all stakeholders. The implementation of the project will take place during the years 2016-2018.

    The main conclusion we draw from the operation of the governance structure and the LABs in both social innovation projects is that real collaboration and commitment cannot be taken for granted and generally does not develop spontaneously. Successful collaboration requires first of all urgency and commitment of all stakeholders, and second authority in governance, well-designed policy actions and concrete instrumentation and funding to trigger stakeholders to change their attitudes/behaviour and to invest in real collaboration and the common interest instead of the self-interests only.

  2. Introduction

For the youth unemployment free zone project in the Mid-Brabant region with Tilburg as the Centre community a governance structure was set-up to manage the research and executive part of the project.

For the coordination of the programme an executive board (EB) has been established that was composed by representatives of the ‘Triple Helix” network of stakeholders (Tilburg University, Midpoint, Local community Tilburg, Employers, Education institutions, Societal organisations for youth on welfare, care and safety).

The board acted under the authority of the Midpoint steering group for economic development, education and the labour market. The executive board also acted as the local advisory board (LAB) for STYLE. The executive board was formally responsible for coordinating and guiding the research activities conducted for the project. Part of the research has been the design of an implementation plan. That plan was based on the results of 25 interviews held with representatives of the “Triple Helix”, that is the stakeholder’s community of the regional government, the education and the business sector, and five focus-group interviews during the period March 2015-June 2015. In addition, a general stakeholders meeting was organised on the 26th of May 2015. This resulted in a draft implementation plan as of July 1 2015 that was agreed by the executive board and the regional stakeholders and worked out in detail during the period July 1 – December 31, 2015.

In Amsterdam an economic board was set up already in 2011 to coordinate all the research activities as well as the executive projects conducted under the heading of the regional economic development initiative including the programmes on VET for notably the low-skilled youngsters. For that reason, we did not set up a separate LAB in Amsterdam but consulted individual representatives of the various stakeholders to discuss VET policies for youth including the role of policy learning and transfer that was the main subject of study for STYLE. In this paper we report on the operation of the LABs, notably in the Mid-Brabant region.

  1. Governance structure

The executive board (EB) of the youth unemployment project acted also as the LAB for STYLE. The EB was chaired by prof. Ton Wilthagen of Tilburg University. In the first stage the members were: Peter van Ierland (Midpoint), prof. Ruud Muffels (coordinator research, ReflecT), Roy Willems (Local Community of Tilburg), M. van Loon (Local Community Tilburg) and S. Beerens (Local Community Waalwijk and “Baanbrekers” in the city of Waalwijk, an organisation to reintegrate youngsters with disabilities).

The LAB met regularly at Tilburg University. Another group was asked to act as the coordination group for to set up and maintain a micro-database (school monitor) on the school careers of MBO students. That MBO (intermediate vocational training) database group also met frequently at Tilburg University.

A third body to be mentioned is the regional economic steering board falling under the authority of the developmental organization, called Midpoint, who has the final responsibility for the youth unemployment project as part of the regional economic and labour market agenda.

VET Amsterdam

In Amsterdam we consulted individual representatives of the various stakeholders during various occasions in 2015, notably people from the various municipal bodies, the local statistical board, the national policy institutions (Intermediate Professional Education (MBO) Council, the SBB Cooperation between Professional Education and Business, and the Ministries of Education and Social Affairs).

In addition, we should mention the establishment in 2013 of the Sterk-committee (directed by the former MP Mirjam Sterk) that at national level operated and that had the ambition to reduce youth unemployment. In the Sterk-Committee all earlier mentioned organisations were involved. We were well informed by our personal contacts with committee members about its progress. This was even more critical when it became clear that the trade union representatives insisted to abolish the Sterk-committee in Spring 2015 due to lack of progress and success. Although there is no direct connection at all, from that time onwards, Prof. Marc van der Meer (on personal invitation) became more involved while acting as an advisor on mutual learning for the newly established VET-programme in the city of Amsterdam. This enabled us to acquire also a better understanding and connection with the various authorities in Amsterdam for the fight against youth unemployment, seen from a multi-helix perspective.

In Amsterdam, many workshops, conferences, lectures were organised since the inception of the Economic Board in 2011. These activities committed all the relevant stakeholders in the domain of education and the labour market such as the professional education institutions at intermediate level (ROC), the local communities, the unemployment insurance offices (UWV), societal organisations in welfare and care and the employee and employer’s organisations.

  1. The role of the LABs

The LAB in Tilburg had frequently meetings to discuss the progress of the research and the implementation plan. The group coordinated the various research activities, notably the interviews and meetings with the stakeholders. The group was gradually extended to involve more parties. Initially, the group consisted of the local government representatives and Midpoint but in later stages (July 1 – December 31) also the societal organisations in youth welfare and care, the education institutions and the employers were participating notably for the concretisation of the implementation plan. The LAB in the Tilburg region acted in practice as the steering group for the whole endeavour in the starting phase of the project. It took up the responsibility to coordinate the research and implementation plan in that first stage up to July 1 2015. In the second half of the year (July 1- December 31) the implementation plan was made more concrete through defining concrete projects and funding. The EB/LAB was also responsible for its coordination in this second stage of the project. In December 2015 the plan became accepted by all stakeholders. The implementation of the project will take place during the years 2016-2018.

The consultations In Amsterdam with the earlier mentioned organisations and representatives were meant to discuss the VET policies for youth including the role of policy learning and transfer as being the main subject of study for STYLE. These gatherings will certainly have contributed to learning of and transfer between the stakeholders which however is hard to prove in terms of how that has improved or worsened the VET outcomes for the youngsters.

The main conclusion we draw from the operation of the governance structure and the LABs in both social innovation projects in Tilburg and Amsterdam is that real collaboration and commitment cannot be taken for granted and generally does not develop spontaneously. Successful collaboration requires first of all urgency and commitment of all stakeholders to engage in real problem-solving, and second authority in governance, well-designed policy actions and concrete instrumentation and funding to trigger stakeholders to change their attitudes/ behaviour and to invest in real collaboration and the common interest instead of rent-seeking behaviour and self-interests only (see also Bekker et al., 2015a, 2015b, Muffels et al. 2015, Wilthagen et al. 2015; Hemerijck and Van der Meer, 2016).

Participants

Prof. Ton Wilthagen (Tilburg University).

Prof. Ruud Muffels (coordinator research, ReflecT)

Prof. Marc van der Meer

Peter van Ierland (Midpoint),

Roy Willems (Local Community of Tilburg),

M. van Loon (Local Community Tilburg)

S. Beerens (Local Community Waalwijk and “Baanbrekers” in the city of Waalwijk, an organisation to reintegrate youngsters with disabilities)

 

References

Bekker, S., van der Meer, M., & Muffels, R. (2015a). Barriers to and triggers of policy innovation and knowledge transfer in the Netherlands. STYLE Working Papers, WP4.1/NL. CROME, University of Brighton, Brighton. http://www.style-research.eu/publications/working-papers, p. 42.

Bekker, S., van der Meer, M., Muffels, R., & Wilthagen, A. (2015b). Policy Performance and Evaluation: Netherlands. STYLE Working Papers, WP3/nl. CROME, University of Brighton, Brighton. http://www.style-research.eu/publications/working-papers, p.38.

Hemerijck, A. and M. van der Meer, (2016), ‘Nieuw Nederlands polderen: van brede sociale akkoorden naar ad-hoc domeinafspraken’, in M. Keune (ed.), Het Nederlands model: nog steeds een mirakel? Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Muffels, R., A. Wilthagen, W. Wesseling et al. (2015), De ambitie van een jeugdwerkloosheidsvrije zone onderzocht (The Ambition of a Youth Unemployment Free Region Investigated), ReflecT, Tilburg University, p. 102.

Wilthagen, A., R. Muffels, P. van Ierland, R. Willems, M. van loon en S. Beerens,

(2015), Hoofdlijnen-voorstel Uitvoeringsprogramma Jeugdwerkloosheidsvrije zone in de regio Hart van Brabant (Main features Implementation Plan Youth Unemployment Free Zone in the Region Mid-Brabant), ReflecT/Tilburg University, p. 99.

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