In practice

Passport for Work

Summary

South-East Brabant, the Netherlands—

  • Passport for Work is a tool for assessing, developing and matching skills, which has been developed in the South-East Brabant region, the Netherlands.

  • The tool uses a skills-focused approach and contributes to creating an inclusive and future-proof regional labour market.

Published on the 16/06/2023

Geographic scaleRegion / State

KeywordsInclusion, Data, evidence and evaluation, Youth

ThemesLocal employment and skills, Economic and community development

CountryNetherlands

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What are the objectives?

In the South-East Brabant region, the local high-tech industry is flourishing and home to many key international players, but a growing number of citizens do not have the skills to find employment in this sector. The Passport for Work project aims to match individuals to sectors with skills shortages whilst avoiding lengthy training requirements. This will contribute to an increase in labour market participation while ensuring the regional labour market remains competitive and inclusive. The project aims to achieve this by:

  • Developing an inter-sectoral skills passport with a gamified assessment that can be used in several sectors of the labour market

  • Creating tailor-made and restructured eLearning programmes for skills improvement

  • Reducing the time for reintegrating jobseekers and ensuring more sustainable labour market outcomes

This is realised by taking tests based on skills and not on prior earned diplomas and work experience. The passport for work programme has been included in the national skills strategy, thanks to its success.

How does it work in practice?

The core of Passport for Work is an online platform, which allows individuals to develop their skill-based “passport for work” by means of gamified assessment and allows employers to find suitable candidates thanks to the creation of skill-based job vacancies. Jobseekers and employers using this tool are guided in the identification and articulation of their skill sets and skills needs. This information is used for algorithm-based matchmaking. In case of a small skills gap targeted eLearning and training modules are offered directly within the platform. The main advantages of this approach are: i) the platform caters to the motivation of job seekers thanks to gamifying the assessments; ii) it presents a broad picture of employees’ skills; and iii) it reduces bias in human decision-making since the algorithm compares occupational requirements with someone’s skills in a purely objective manner.

Passport for Work also contributes to the development of a national skills language. Occupational skill needs were identified for 25 occupations in the healthcare, technical, and construction industries (representing the initial scope of the project), which were then validated by questionnaires among thousands of Dutch employers and workers. Together, they provided input on the relevance, as well as the appropriate mastery level for over 100 skills, for each of the 25 occupations.

The Passport for Work is supported by the European Union through the Urban Innovative Actions programme.

What has been the impact?

The successful rollout of Passport for Work established skills-based language as a more legitimised tool for employers to recognise qualifications. This can be critical for vulnerable groups in society that experience difficulties in the labour market due to lacking correctly recognised work experience or education.

The Passport has now become part of a larger platform that connects all job seekers, companies, and educational institutions into a single, easily accessible ecosystem called SkillsInzicht. This offers an accessible and innovative assessment that leads to a personalized skills profile. Clients will gain a comprehensive and clear understanding of their talents, motivations, and soft skills. Based on clients’ personal skills profiles, they gain insight into professions that match their skills. The initiative compares skills profiles with over 2 000 professions to find the best match.

SkillsInZicht is part of ArbeidsmarktInZicht and is a unique collaboration between three innovative organisations in the Benelux region (UQalify, Nalantis, and Etil research group). They combine expertise in labour market integration, HR, research, and technology. The project aligns with the “skills language” that is the standard in Europe and the Netherlands.

What can other communities learn from this example?

A number of elements can be considered as key to the success of the project. Passport for Work incorporated a parallel strategy involving the development of a service, its online platform, and the management of its broader environment. Early engagement with labour market actors, employers, and other stakeholders has boosted the possibility of successful upscaling. In addition, strong incentive systems have encouraged individuals to disclose information on their skills and other relevant attributes. However, complying with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) legislation was a major challenge for the storing and using of personal information in the platform for matching purposes. This proved to be extremely complex with a lot of intricacies related to the management, distribution, and storing of various subsets of skills and other personal traits. As such, external expertise was sought to ultimately develop a GDPR-compliant platform, in which ownership of data belongs to the job seeker, and potential discriminatory effects are avoided.

Due to the heterogeneous nature of both jobs and job seekers and a lack of structured information, extensive resources were devoted to match jobs with candidates. In addition, the lack of information on people and jobs hinders proactive upskilling and reskilling activities. The Passport to Work project shows how AI-based solutions can help to match PES clients and employers based on profile characteristics. This can help overcome the lack of tangible qualifications that some clients struggle with. Skill-based language can represent an alternative to degrees and years of relevant experience and can help individuals (re)enter the labour market.

OECD resources

OECD (2022), "Future-proofing adult learning systems in cities and regions: A policy manual for local governments", OECD Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED) Papers, No. 2022/03, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/11fa26cc-en.

OECD (2023), Policy Options for Labour Market Challenges in Amsterdam and Other Dutch Cities, OECD Reviews on Local Job Creation, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/181c0fff-en.

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