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Intensive integration pays off

A few years ago, the municipality of Voorst set up its own integration program. Language education is an important part of that.

When an increased inflow of status holders started in 2016 within the municipality of Voorst, it quickly became clear that the integration had to take place differently than usual. The Gelderland municipality wanted this target group to integrate faster and participate in Dutch society. The municipality did not like the idea that newcomers must first integrate for three years and follow lessons and only then be able to actually get to work. 'As a municipality, we wanted to give people a place in society much faster. By immediately looking with them for a paid or unpaid workplace and at the same time having them train intensively, we as a municipality expected to get results faster. '

The goal is that they integrate faster and are therefore prepared for the labor market faster



That is why an intensive integration project was set up; a collaboration between the municipality of Voorst, TopTaal, Mens & Welzijn and the Dutch Council for Refugees. Participants receive three half-days of integration lessons from TopTaal and one half-day of 'integration plus' from the Dutch Council for Refugees. In addition, these newcomers will participate in the local community in a maximum of four half-days per week. This could be a language internship or volunteer work, for example. The aim is for them to integrate more quickly and thus to be prepared for the labor market more quickly.

Students are enthusiastic
The role of TopTaal in the process is providing language education. In August, 29 participants and three different groups were started. Jan explains: 'We really have to fight to motivate people. We would like them to integrate with us, but we cannot oblige them. It is their free choice. When they do that, they are required to do a maximum of four half-days of voluntary work in addition to the 7,5 hours of language lessons per week, depending on their capacity. Of course you can also do paid work! This means that they spend a maximum of eight half-days in the weather. "

What do most participants in the municipality of Voorst start with? With literacy. Jan is resolute: "The group that chooses us, does not consist of higher educated people. This target group needs a lot of time to integrate. I see that students are very enthusiastic about the courses. " The first year went to the satisfaction of the municipality; the second year has now started. 'We are very happy that we have our own integration program close to home. This means that, for example, mothers who take care of children do not have to travel too much. Apeldoorn and Deventer are far away if you have small children. "

Because Jan experienced firsthand how difficult it can be to get a place in the labor process, he was an important driver of this process within the municipality of Voorst. 'I myself have a visual impairment and 36 had to fight hard years ago to get a job. It is therefore very important to me to make it easier for entrants. When I needed a bit of coordination on this route, I took it upon myself with pleasure. I now see that it works! "

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