Minister plans major overhaul of integration policy, language lessons from day 1

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Current government policy on integration needs a complete overhaul, junior social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees says in Tuesday’s Telegraaf. The minister told the paper he is shocked at the scale of the problems he has encountered since taking up office and intends to totally reform integration policy. In particular, Koolmees wants to introduce language lessons ‘from day one’. ‘We know that proficiency in Dutch is extremely important for a person’s options in the labour market. It is very simple. I want to raise the standard in order to increase people’s chances of finding work.’ As soon as people arrive in the Netherlands they will go through a sort of scan to determine more about them, their level of education and their experience. This will enable local authorities, who will be in charge of the process, to plan the best integration programme for the individual, he said. has asked the social affairs ministry to clarify if the minister's plans would affect everyone who is required to go through the integration process or just refugees. The minister said he wants local councils to buy the courses from private agencies on the basis of quality, pointing out that the newcomers, who have to pay for the process themselves, are the ones suffering from poor teaching. Koolmees said that the problems would not be solved overnight. ‘There is clearly a serious problem but I see it as a challenge to better structure policy,’ he said. ‘But I not going to promise the earth. This will always remain a complicated subject.’  More >