Sharing Knowledge: Work Experience Opportunities for Status Holders

At the end of March, Incluusion hosted an inspiring event about the Incluusion Traineeship program. Several educational institutions and organizations interested in creating work experience opportunities for status holders were present. Incluusion has been organizing traineeships for status holders within various UU departments for over 3 years and therefore has plenty of learned lessons to share.

"We received a lot of questions about the traineeship program, especially from different educational institutions," explains Ragna Senf, program manager of Incluusion about the reason for this event. "It seemed more efficient and inspirational to organize a joint knowledge-sharing event including networking opportunities."

The turnout was very diverse: attendees came from Maastricht to Groningen and represented not only educational institutions, but also organizations dedicated to support refugees, such as COA, UAF and VluchtelingenWerk Nederland.

Great interest

Each year, an average of 80 status holders apply for the Incluusion Traineeship programma, from which 10 to 15 trainees are selected. Trainees gain work experience within specific UU departments. They also follow an additional program from Incluusion that focuses on development (Dutch language lessons, intercultural competencies training, and professional development training) and support (theme meetings with all trainees, check-in meetings with Incluusion, and evaluation moments with the workplace).

"The candidates live all over the Netherlands, but we don't want to reject anyone based on their travel distance. After all, status holders don't choose the municipality to which they are assigned," explains Lina Senen, project leader of the Incluusion Traineeships. However, the travel costs must be covered (for instance by the municipality or the UAF) and a trainee must be aware of the travel distance and its practical implications.

Senen adds: “As a result, we have a few trainees in the program who travel two hours on average to get to the office." Incluusion hopes that more organizations in the Netherlands will set up a similar traineeship program for status holders. "Trainees are highly motivated to follow a traineeship and eventually build a working life, but the travel distance poses an extra burden. It would be great if there is a traineeship-like programme in every province," Senen shares during the event.

Knowledge sharing

The first part of the event focused on the inception, growth, and development of the Incluusion Traineeship program. Incluusion initiated a pilot project for five trainees in 2019 and has welcomed multiple groups ever since. In early 2024, a new group of thirteen status holders started their traineeships. Two trainees shared their personal experiences together with the supervisors from their work place. They discussed what they believe is important for a successful traineeship and answered questions from the audience.

In the second part, the attendees discussed various aspects of creating, shaping, and retaining work experience opportunities for status holders within organizations. They highlighted important aspects for candidate recruitment and selection, internal communication to find suitable work experience positions with supervision, and the establishment of the supporting program.

Afterwards, Incluusion received positive feedback from attendees. "The motivation to create work experience positions for status holders was palpable," Senen proudly recounts. Many attendees concluded that now it is time to just get started. Therefore, after the event, Incluusion issued a call to action: Which big or small step can you take today to help advance this goal within your organization? 

Feeling inspired?