Trial period for social service for young people to start this summer

Paul Blokhuis
Paul Blokhuis. (Photo: Rijksoverheid)

The government plans to start the first social service trial projects for young people by this summer. The social service period for Dutch young people will officially start halfway through next year, State Secretary Paul Blokhuis of Public Health, Welfare and Sports said in a letter to the Tweede Kamer on Thursday, ANP reports.

According to Blokhuis, many young people are still not convinced of the usefulness and necessity of this service. They fear that this additional obligation will delay their studies or leave them with not enough time for a part time job, for example. In order to take these concerns away, and make the service period more attractive, Blokhuis finds it important to work with young people on its design and further development.

This social service period forms part of the Rutte III government agreement. The government sees this period as "a contribution to our society", in which young people will come into contact with fellow citizens with whom they would usually not cross paths. The government also hopes that this period will help develop young people's talents. 

During this social service period, young people will help out at a nursing home, or perform administrative tasks at a sports club, for example. The projects are set up together with social organizations, municipalities and provinces. Exactly what the young people will get as a reward for completing their social service period is still being worked out. The government is looking at some kind of diploma, which will give young people an advantage when applying for a job at a government service, for example.

Student organization ISO is vehemently opposed to this social service period, according to "The social service period unjustly creates the impression that young people are lazy and not socially involved, while half of young people already volunteer", chairman Rhea van der Dong said to the newspaper. "They do not agree with a social service period at all. The government seems to be deaf to this and continues this expensive and unnecessary plan."

ISO also worries that this will increase performance pressure among young people. "Young people must already do so much and already feel so much performance pressure and stress. Instead of making it worse, the government should do something about it", Van der Dong said.