Rotterdam's job creation project for unemployed citizens only partly successful

Rotterdam's social return project, in which the municipality obliges contractors to create internships or workplaces for unemployed Rotterdam residents, is only partially successful, according to the Rotterdam Court of Audit. The project did create 2,500 work- and internship spots in 2018, but the municipality missed many opportunities to help job-seekers, and only about half of the vacancies were filled by job-seekers who live in Rotterdam, the Court of Audit said.

The municipality's goal is to require contractors to spend part of the contract price on a job or internship for a job seeker in almost all of its tenders. But the Court of Audit found that this happened in less than half of the tenders. 

Only half of the vacancies created by social return were actually filled by a job-seeker from Rotterdam. The municipality can not oblige contractors to hire Rotterdam residents, but can encourage this by, for example, nominating candidates from its own file of residents on welfare. But many employers told the researchers that the municipality did not nominate any candidates. And those who did receive nominations said that the candidates were often completely unsuitable for the job. 

Employers then go searching for their own candidates, and as a result vacancies are often filled with people from outside the city.

According to the Court of Audit, the municipality is not taking an active role in preparing unemployed residents for upcoming jobs, leaving this task mainly up to the employers. The researchers found that employers expect the municipality to help their job seekers. "The court of Audit therefore recommends that the municipality makes a greater effort to prepare social assistance clients for the jobs that result from the social return."

Despite the issues, the Court of Audit also praised the social return project. The municipality of Rotterdam did manage to create over 2,500 work and internship places through social return in 2018. "This is considerably more than the municipalities of Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague."