The number of teenagers leaving school without qualifications has reached its highest level in 10 years, education minister Robbert Dijkgraaf has told parliament.
Figures compiled for the ministry showed 30,000 people left school without obtaining a diploma in the 2020-21 academic year – 5,000 more than the previous year – with the overwhelming majority in the vocational MBO stream.
Dijkgraaf said society could ‘not allow’ large numbers of school leavers to quit without qualifications, which increases their chances of unemployment, long-term sickness and ending up with a criminal record.
‘Ultimately an education or a basic qualification gives people a foothold in life and a future with more opportunities,’ Dijkgraaf wrote in a letter to MPs. The government has set a target of reducing the number of unqualified school leavers to 18,000 by 2026.
Dijkgraaf said some students had become demotivated during the coronavirus pandemic, while others had chosen to abandon their studies and take a job, attracted by the generous pay rates in a tight labour market.
Adnan Tekin, chair of the MBO council, which represents vocational schools, said he was concerned by the high drop-out rate. ‘Shortages in the labour market and big financial problems can make it attractive for young people to leave school and take up a full-time position,’ he told NOS Radio 1 Journaal.
‘That’s a short-term solution, but if you don’t have a diploma and take a job elsewhere in the labour market, you might be the first one out of the door.’
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