Benefit agency fears increasing staff shortages due to Cabinet's STAP budget freeze
Benefits agency UWV is concerned about next year's STAP budget cuts. The agency, which administers the program, fears cuts to training and longer-term staff shortages in areas such as health care. However, applications for STAP funds can still be submitted as of this Monday morning.
On Wednesday, it was announced that the Cabinet plans to discontinue the popular program next year. This allows people to complete training to increase their chances in the job market. The last round of applications was held on March 17. At that time, the budget totaling 34 million euros was exhausted after about 2.5 hours. This year, a total of 170 million euros is available. An applicant can receive a maximum of 1,000 euros per year for their training.
UWV chairman Maarten Camps is concerned about the cuts to training and the elimination of the STAP program. "Especially now that we know that the labor market will remain tight for a long time. Training plays an important role in reducing that and developing workers to avoid unemployment." Thanks to the program, many people can get training that will help them in the labor market, according to Camps.
Workers in the care and social services sectors in particular have applied for STAP funds this and last year, the UWV calculated earlier this week. In March, 39,500 people applied for the education account, 9,100 of whom worked in the care and social services sector. This was the largest group. The UWV announced it will hold discussions with Minister Karien van Gennip (Social Affairs) on how to continue to support a broad range of people with training.
Especially in the beginning, the program was heavily criticized for funding courses that appeared to have little social relevance, and for some providers linking trips to the classes. This year, the rules have become stricter. Educators, for example, are not allowed to offer gifts to raise the budget.
The MBO Council also called on the government to continue investing in education. "Continuing education is necessary to ensure that MBO graduates can keep up with their knowledge," said Chairman Adnan Tekin. He also believes that retraining from one job to another should continue to be encouraged. For example, the STAP program can help with the energy transition because it gives professionals the opportunity to retrain.
Reporting by ANP