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A career in childcare in the Netherlands? Help is at hand

Do you love working with children but have found that your qualifications are not recognised to work as a childcare teacher in the Netherlands? International childcare group Zein offers a special in-house training programme which allows you to make the switch and continue your career.

‘We were getting so many applications from people who had the relevant qualifications and experience but did not meet the Dutch criteria and could not work that we started looking into how we could help,’ says Thanos Papanastasiou, who is Zein’s after school care and holiday camps manager.

‘We are an international company and our staff is just as internationally diverse as the families in our care. We believe this is one of the things that makes us unique, so we wanted to see if there was a way to take this forward,’ Thanos says.

That discussion led to the development of the Zein Academy International Talent Programme (ITP) which welcomed its first trainees in 2017 and has helped dozens of people obtain the certifications needed to work as an international childcare teacher in The Hague region.

The programme, a modified version of the Dutch EVC, or ‘ervaringscertificate’ (experience certificate) helps new recruits to back up their own qualifications with practical experience and training that will allow them to work in childcare in the Netherlands.


Generally, the successful candidates hold qualifications related to childhood care, education, or psychology. Every application is reviewed carefully. ‘For example, enthusiastic candidates with a background in art or sport could be a valuable addition our after school and holiday care team,’ Thanos points out. Also worth noting for non-Dutch speakers, candidates will also qualify for an exemption from the Dutch language element of the certification process

To be successful, you need to have the passion, skills  and energy to work with children, says Thanos. ‘As part of our commitment to offering high-quality care, we set the bar high. We know from our experience, that proper support throughout the training period is invaluable,which is why our trainees are monitored, assessed, and supported throughout the process by a personal coach.’

The length of the programme generally is around two to six months depending on the trainee’s prior experience and qualifications, and will be tailor-made to fit their individual needs. To take part, trainees must be competent in English, hold at least a post high school diploma and able to train and work in The Hague region. Check your qualifications here

Alongside the on-job training with Zein’s professionals, trainees attend workshops and lectures focusing on all aspects of international childcare and the Zein approach to working with international families.

One particularly relevant topic is that of supporting children who are growing up across cultures – possibly different ones to their parents – and looks at the challenges and benefits they experience as they grow up. Another lecture focuses on creating a home away from home, and how Zein works to promote a sense of belonging and helps children cope with feelings of anxiety in a life of change.

‘For me, learning about Third Culture Kids was the most important learning points in the course,’ says Dafni, who is now a day care teacher at Zein. ‘It is really important to know how to make sure that every child is truly cared for and understood independently from their background.’

People who complete the programme generally end up working at Zein, which is an expanding company and always on the look out for new staff. ‘Nationwide, there is a huge lack of staff in the childcare sector and this is our way of helping to meet demand,’ says Thanos.

New intake

The next ITP stream starts in the autumn and the recruitment process kicks off with an information mornings on Tuesday 13 September and Tuesday 20 September. Interviews will take place in the week of Monday, September 25.

‘Of course there is lots of paperwork when you start but it is all about learning on the job,’ says Alyssa van Beelen, an American national who came to the Netherlands as a student and went through the ITP course in 2017. She is now an assistant manager at one of Zein’s Early Years locations.

‘Zein offers lots of guidance, but you  need to be genuinely passionate about working with children, and you need to be flexible. After all, if you have a background in working with children, you know will know what to expect!’

Find out more about the Zein Academy International Talent Programme here.

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