Deputy PM defends his €600m jobs plan

Minister Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs defended his jobs plan to growing doubt on its success during a parliamentary debate in the Tweede Kamer, lower house of parliament. "It is more than just an emergency measure", he said. "The goal is to emerge stronger from the crisis."

In the Deputy Prime Minister's jobs plan, officially called the sector plans, unemployed people or workers threatened with redundancy, should be retrained or placed in apprenticeships to get them ready for new jobs. The government made 600 million euros available for the plan. For every euro that Asscher puts into the plan, the unions and employers also contributes at least one euro.

So far the government has invested 424 million euros into the plan, and the unions and employers have contributed 776 million euros, NU reports. In the initial phase, 81 thousand people participated. Asscher hopes to eventually reach 430 thousand people with the already approved plans.

The plan is currently in the third and last part. Asscher recently extended the deadline for this final part to 15 September, despite criticism in the Tweede Kamer, especially from the CDA and D66. He is, however, willing to investigate in the fall whether this last phase of his jobs plan has yielded enough results and to look at other possibilities.

The Tweede Kamer is increasingly doubtful about the success of this jobs plan. The D66, who was a firm supporter until now, was very critical about the third phase of the plan during the debate, NU reports. The VVD also asked Asscher whether there aren't any better alternatives.

The D66 and CDA think that the last 150 million euros of the government's contribution could be better spent. According to the CDA, that money was intended to combat unemployment during the crisis, but the crisis will likely be over by 2018. They think that the last part of the plan is not producing results quickly enough and should be stopped.

Asscher believes that extending the last part of the plan to September is defensible and pointed out that the crisis is lasting longer than expected in many sectors, such as construction.