A basic qualification provides better job opportunities
Without a so-called basic qualification young people have less chance of securing a job. That is why the government wants to get youngsters without a basic qualification back to school. A school dropout is anyone younger than 23 who has no basic qualification. Examples of basic qualifications are diplomas of senior general secondary education (havo in Dutch) or pre-university education (vwo). Pre-vocational secondary education (vmbo in Dutch) is not seen as a basic qualification by the government. However, a vmbo diploma gives access to senior secondary vocational education (mbo in Dutch). An mbo diploma is a basic qualification, unless it is a level 1-diploma, the so-called entrance course.
In the school year 2013/2014 25,970 youngsters left school without a basic qualification. Despite the rise in the total number of pupils by 9,300, the number of school dropouts fell by 2,000 as compared to the 27,950 registered in the school year 2012/2013. So the target of having no more than 25,000 school dropouts in 2016 is in sight. For the sake of comparison, in 2002 still 71,000 youngsters aged under 23 left school without a basic qualification.
Most of the school dropouts live in the four biggest cities of the Netherlands.
Dropout is highest in these big cities, especially in neighbourhoods with poverty problems. The numbers of school dropouts have risen in Amsterdam (+0.2%) and Rotterdam (+4.9%), for instance. The Hague (-4.9%) and Utrecht (-9.3%), on the contrary, saw a decrease in the number of dropouts.
When do pupils drop out?
Most school dropouts are aged between 18 and 23. Many pupils drop out in the transition from vmbo to mbo, for instance because vmbo pupils, once they have obtained their diploma, have no idea what further education to choose. In other cases, pupils discover in their first mbo-year that they have chosen the wrong study. Instead of switching to another course, they drop out..
Still obtaining a diploma
The Cabinet is of the opinion that youngsters who have left school must still get their basic qualification. The ambition is that at least 70% of last school year's dropouts obtain a basic qualification within one year, go back to school, get a job or embark on a school or job action plan. Schooling is good for young people; it will increase their sense of standing and self-confidence as well as decrease the risk of their getting involved with the wrong people, such as loverboys, drug dealers or jihad recruiters, or ending up in crime.