Training or retraining is an option when your business goes through a reorganisation, and employees have to be reassigned. Or if you no longer have suitable work for employees, they want to look for other work, or if you cannot find suitable candidates for a vacancy within your existing workforce.
Training staff costs time and money, but it also saves on costs. Retraining has several advantages.
Keep knowhow up-to-date
You invest in your personnel’s knowhow (in Dutch) and, by doing so, you invest in your business development and growth. And you retain knowledge and experience: employees are more likely to remain in your employ if you offer them a chance to develop and grow.
Well-trained personnel is more motivated, driven, and productive. Research done by the ministries of Education and of Social Affairs and Work show that employees who are learning new skills and knowledge are more satisfied, and contribute to a better work atmosphere.
If you continue to invest in the development of knowledge and skills, your employees and your company will remain able to move with the times and changes surrounding your business. Employer and employee together can shape the theme Lifelong development (in Dutch), in a world where job requirements change ever more rapidly.
Fewer changes in staff
Businesses that actively promote training retain their staff for longer than businesses that do not. Training ties your employees to your business. So, you save money on recruitment and selection, outplacement, and dismissal.
All the advantages listed here contribute to the agility of your business when circumstances demand it, for instance during the corona crisis. Sufficient knowledge, high motivation, and committed personnel make it easier to adapt.
If you want to make use of the NOW scheme, you have to make a commitment to guide employees on their journey to a new job, a so-called from-work-to-work trajectory ('van-werk-naar-werk'). Examples of this guidance are training or retraining for your employees. This will help them find new jobs. For example: you have applied for NOW5. If you dismissed an employee during the period for which NOW provided compensation, i.e. between 1 January and 31 March 2022, you had to report this to UWV before the NOW5 application window closed (13 April 2022). If you failed to do so, your subsidy will be cut by 5%.
Schemes and subsidies
The Dutch government offers schemes for training, online schooling, intern supervision, and other types of learning. A few schemes come with a financial compensation. Below, you find an overview.
NL keeps on learning ('NL leert door')
The ‘NL leert door’ (in Dutch) scheme gives future unemployed persons personal development advice to retrain for professions that are increasingly in demand (in Dutch). The scheme makes it possible to retrain free of charge. Employees can use these free training courses (in Dutch) until the end of 2022.
The subsidy scheme ‘NL leert door’ also offers a customised process for certain sectors: ‘NL leert door met de inzet van sectoraal maatwerk’. It enables sector organisations to offer development advice, training, and guidance to (future) employees in the sector. That way, sector collaborations of employer organisations, employee organisations, and other stakeholders can support the sector in retaining and finding jobs by applying for a subsidy. The subsidy can be used for 1 of 4 activities: development advice, training, EVC (recognition of acquired competences), or guidance towards finding other employment. The activities may be executed by the collaborating parties or by external providers.
As an employer, you can also finance such a process yourself and include it in your tax return as costs for schooling and training (in Dutch, see ‘Tax deduction’ below).
The Dutch government has replaced the fiscal deduction for schooling in the income tax return with the STAP budget. From 1 March to 30 April 2022, employees could apply for a STAP budget (‘Stimulering ArbeidsmarktPositie’, in Dutch) of €1,000 maximum for training and development, to gain a stronger foothold in the labour market. This development budget helps your employees increase their chances on the labour market, and it means they continue to self-develop. The government wants people to have control over their own development and career.
The SLIM scheme is a subsidy for SMEs and larger companies in the agriculture, hospitality, and recreational sectors. It aims to stimulate development and learning. You apply for SLIM as an employer or as a collaborative effort.
Subsidy scheme retraining for ICT and technology
There is a growing demand for skilled ICT and technology personnel. This subsidy scheme promotes retraining for jobs in these industries, to meet the demand. Employees who retrain for a job in ICT or technology increase their chances of finding a lasting career.
Flexible learning route
Employees with a lot of work experience who want to get a vocational education (mbo or hbo) diploma, can set out on a personalised Learning route (in Dutch). You can also offer employees an EVC process (in Dutch), that allows them to translate their experience and learned skills into a certificate or diploma. EVC stands for ‘Erkennen van Verworven Competenties’: Recognition of Acquired Competences.
Training and Development Funds ('O&O fondsen')
If your business works with a collective labour agreement, or ‘CAO’ in Dutch, you can apply for the financial compensation of O&O-fondsen (Training and Development Funds, in Dutch). These funds compensate part of the costs for some training courses. They also employ career advisors, who can help with schooling and training routes. Take a look at the overview of recognised O&O-fondsen and similar funds (in Dutch), or contact your sector organisation.
Learn and work counter ('Leerwerkloket')
The ‘Leerwerkloket’ (in Dutch) helps and advises employers, jobseekers, students, and employees on learning and working from the vision ‘Leven Lang Ontwikkelen’ (Lifelong Development). They are there for everyone who has questions about retraining, upskilling, and learning-on-the-job routes. Each ‘Leerwerkloket’ is an independent collaboration between municipalities, regional development centres, and the Employment Insurance Agency UWV. There are 35 ‘Leerwerkloketten’ across the Netherlands.
The government has allotted €1.4 billion to a ‘social package’ (in Dutch). This plan aims to help people find new jobs quicker. It reinforces the existing services provided by UWV and municipalities, and extends the support for persons seeking employment. It was set up together with unions, employer organisations, municipalities, and UWV. The €1.4 billion package is an addition to the existing schooling and training possibilities provided by employers, O&O-fondsen, and municipalities.
Up until and including 2021, employers could deduct the costs for education and schooling for their employees from their profits in the (corporate) income tax return. The training must be aimed at acquiring skills to perform a profession in future, or to maintain up-to-date knowhow. From 1 April 2022, the STAP budget replaces this tax deduction.
Inform the Works Council (‘Ondernemingsraad’)
As an employer, you are required to inform the works council(‘ondernemingsraad’ or OR) if you decide to train or upskill an employee using one of the schemes mentioned in this article. This is laid down in the Works Council Act (WOR), article 27 section 1 sub f.
Do you have questions about retraining, or do you want to discuss the consequences for your business with a Netherlands Chamber of Commerce KVK advisor? Contact the KVK Advice Team.