Bridge students
Short description
The message of the BRIDGE career start guarantee, part of the National Urgency Programme South Rotterdam (NPRZ), is reaching more and more people. As a result, an increasing number of employers are informing the NPRZ that they would like to participate in the scheme, under which students in South Rotterdam are given an exclusive job guarantee at the start of their intermediate vocational course. A great deal of work has gone on behind the scenes to increase the uptake of the BRIDGE career starting guarantees. One example is the BRIDGE Go for a job! event.

The event has grown enormously in the past two years, so Go for a Job urgently required a new (read: larger) location. This was identified in the form of the Ahoy conference centre, where hundreds of extra square metres of floor space were available to receive 1,600 pre-vocational secondary school students from South Rotterdam and inform them about the professions to which the career start guarantee applies. 

The event was very successful, an assessment not made by the organisation itself, but by the schools and students who were asked about what they thought of the 2019 event. The employers, the providers of the career start guarantee, were also very satisfied about the attendance and the contacts they had with this young target group, who are difficult to reach.

The emphasis at Go for a Job 2019 was on activities. The young people could try joinery, bricklaying, taking a blood sample, mechanical repairs or examine an army tank, so they could get to know the professions to which the career start guarantee applies. During the activities they were also told about other aspects of the profession, for example about starting salaries. In most cases it was above the average starting salary for other jobs. This undoubtedly made an impression on the target group. Highlighting the perks of the job in this way is also a key strategy in the BRIDGE communication campaign around the career start guarantee. This is essential, because an average intermediate vocational course lasts three to four years. When you are a teenager this seems a lifetime, so it is crucial that there is a major incentive.
The event received much attention in the national media. This publicity in its turn helps with arranging new career start guarantees. For example, two new employers have come forward in the meanwhile who are also interested in offering an NPRZ job guarantee. NPRZ is now able to offer about 500 guarantees, which is only 100 guarantees less than the target. The target of 600 guarantees is equivalent to one half of the number of students in Zuid who start an intermediate vocational course every year.

Achieving the hoped-for uptake of guarantees was far from straightforward. Making the target group aware of the Career start guarantees requires much effort. Many activities to raise awareness were organised through BRIDGE communication channels. In the meantime a promotion team has been set up that visits schools during mentor hours, there is a BRIDGE Go for a job bicycle and a campaign in print and on social media. 

Gradually progress is made and the number of students taking up the offer of the BRIDGE career start guarantee is increasing. And if the responses during Go for a job 2019 are anything to go by, this bodes very well for the uptake figures. Or, as a student attending the event stated: “Until today, I thought it was a dirty job that paid badly, but in fact it’s really interesting. And you can earn good money”

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Author: Edwin Cornelisse, communications adviser for BRIDGE and the National Programme for Rotterdam Zuid (NPRZ).