Colourful Brabant Works
The province of Noord-Brabant in the Netherlands and especially some of the cities of the province (Oss, Helmond, Den Bosch, Breda, Waalwijk, Tilburg and Veghel) have for some time been looking at ways to integrate young migrants better into society and to enable them to find their right place on the labour market. Next to the more usual social institutions, the cities were looking for more innovative ways to reach their goals. In cooperation with PSW employment consultancy and Palet diversity consultants, the province Noord-Brabant the project started the Colourful Brabant Works in 2005 as one of the results of this search.
The socio-economic background of migrant
youngsters in the Netherlands has made it harder for them to find
their right place in society and on the labour market. This
development has multiple negative results for this particular
- a relatively large part of this group leaves school without a diploma, making it harder to find a good job and contributing to society in a positive way;
- a large percentage of this group was not able to find work after completing their education, because they had no clear view of what they wanted to do with their lives;
- the way this group was viewed upon by employers became more and more negative, resulting in even greater difficulties to find a good job.
The end result which spurred the province of Noord-Brabant to act upon was a large group of youngsters with a negative view of the society in which they live and making them reluctant to contribute to society.
Colourful Brabant Works (CBW) is a project financed by the province of Brabant. CBW aims to enable young people, especially young people of migrant background, a better and more positive view on their (professional) future. Through forming multi-cultural promotion groups in all participating cities, youngsters not only meet each other and exchange experiences, they also organise and attend useful and promotional activities and events. Through exchanging experience, taking part in the group process, attending and organising meetings and events, the members of the promotion groups gain (semi-) professional experience.
The promotion teams do not only gain professional experience, they also meet their future employers. The intercultural exchange is also an important part of the project. Through the past decade, the view of employers of migrants as employees has deteriorated. Through meeting young migrants, the view of possible employers upon this group has improved a lot.
Through participating in a promotion team, the (migrant) youngsters, gain positive experiences in a (semi-) professional setting. They learn to organise events, they acquire leadership capabilities and through the events and meeting they attend the gain insights in the possibilities they have after completing their education. The promotion teams serve as inspiration and motivation for the youngsters to make the right choices for their future. On the other hand, the promotion teams meet with possible employers. Through a positive contact with the promotion teams, it is aimed to change the view of future employers upon the group of youngsters with a migrant background as a whole.
The project has had good results, which is one of the reasons that it is still very actively implemented and expanding in the province of Noord-Brabant. Colourful Brabant Works has made migrant youth more aware of the importance of getting a diploma, their own skills and capacities and gave them a much clearer view of what they want to do with their own future. The project empowers youngster to take their future in their own hands.
The main lesson which was learned is not to have one background of migrants dominating the group as a whole. A mix of different cultures within the promotion teams works best. Also, face-to-face contact between the project coordinators and the project participants is valued very highly.
In 2008, the project was selected as a winning story by the Equal fund. Because of this, it was granted a place on the Equal conference in Lissabon. On this conference the 60 projects which were selected as winning stories, from a total of 2000 projects, were presented.
The main resources come from the province of Noord-Brabant. The project has also been awarded money from the equal fund of the European Commission.
5200 BG 's-Hertogenbosch
Phone: 0031 73 612 43 25
Rombout Jas (senior advisor)
Project start date
One of the two executing agencies of the Colourful Brabant Works (CBW) project is PSW employment consultancy. PSW employment consultancy is a non-profit organisation which works on labour market related issues in the Netherlands, their main expertise is in the field of consultancy, project development, project management, research and training about labour market issues. PSW focuses mainly on the re-integration of people that experience or have handicaps on the labour market. The CBW project leader is Rombout Jas, he has been involved in the project for a long time and is the project leader since one year.Rombout Jas: “The work for CBW has been very entertaining, energising and inspirational.”
Could you elaborate on the background of this project, what was the situation in the participating cities?
“The participating cities in this project, but also Dutch society as a whole, experienced polarisation from the end of the 20th century and the past decade. The (socio-economic) position of immigrants deteriorated considerably during this period. Because of a lack of intercultural exchanges within Dutch society, a sense of not belonging was dominant and immigrants became more and more suspicious of Dutch institutions and employers. Dutch employers on the other hand, also had their prejudices towards immigrants. The province of Noord-Brabant felt it was time to remove barriers between people with different cultural backgrounds and was looking for good projects which could foster intercultural exchange and improve the socio-economic position of people with migrant background within Dutch society, by means of improving the imaging of youngsters with a migrant background through empowerment. One of the projects which received funding was Colourful Brabant Works.”
The project has been running for five years now, could you elaborate on the most important developments that the project has experienced?
“The project started out with two promotion teams. Nowadays, the project has 13 promotion teams in seven different cities. The expansion of the project has been one of the most important developments. Now that there are many promotion teams, exchanges of experience between teams occur on a regular basis. All teams can learn from each other, especially because every team gains different experiences in a different city. Also, we have experienced that it is very important to keep the project and its activities close to the youngsters which are involved in the project, the need to make the decision on what kind of activities they want to undertake. An other important development has been the addition of places for an internship. Through CBW the participants get the opportunity to find an internship at different companies and institutes. We are still looking for more internship places. We have also brought more focus on labour market orientation into the project, because many youngsters fail to make perspective choices that fit their qualities and dreams . This has been very helpful and it has enabled the participants to gain a clearer view of what they want to do after they have finished their education.”
Since one year you have been the project leader of CBW. Can you share some of your own experiences with us?
“It has been very enjoyable to be the project leader of CBW. The project and its participants have been very inspiring and energising. It is quite challenging to keep a good balance within a project and to steer the focus of all its participant in the good way. For me as a project leader, the funding of the project is also one of the important issues to keep a close eye on. It is hard to keep getting a full budget for the project. For the near future we are looking to expand our funding opportunities as we are aiming to also have companies participating in the project.”
Integration and social cohesion is, especially in western Europe, a topic which is very relevant, also in the urban context. What lessons did you learn from international examples when this project was drawn up?
“The project was first initiated by Forum (an organisation in the Netherlands which also operates in the field of integration), but the concept was taken over by PSW and Palet. We have not drawn upon international examples when we were outlining this project. However, there may or should be similar projects in other parts of Europe. Through the Equal conference, our project has gotten some international attention, but I think it deserves some more attention. It is a very good project in which youngsters develop themselves personally and their career on the labour market and also open the minds and hearts of employers and directors.”
Donya, Amal and Naziha are all three members of Pashja, one of the two Colourful Brabant Works promotion teams of which the members attend the same school (the Koning Willem I College, in Den Bosch). Amal is the team Pashja’s leader at the moment, all three the girls are enjoying their time in the team. “Pashja prepares us better for our future and in the meantime we are having fun and we are gaining experiences which we had never thought possible.”
How was your situation before you joined team Pashja and what kind of future did you envision for yourself?
"I was really lacking focus," Amal says, "I did not really have an idea of what my qualities were and what I wanted to be after my education." Naziha and Donya both mention that they were a bit shy before the entered team Pashja and stand up for themselves when it was needed.
How did you learn about the existence of the team and of the project Colourful Brabant Works (CBW)?
"CBW has organised promotional activities at our school and previous members of team Pashja organised activities in which we participated. The people in the team were having fun and were also quite serious about their future. That attracted to us and this made us join the team also"
Could you describe some of the activities you have organised and some of the activities that CBW has offered you?
Donya: "We have campaigned for a silence room at our school, and we succeeded in our campaign. We did a query in which we asked the students if they would like to have a silence room in the school. The school now has a room where students can relax, study or pray, if they want to. This was a great success for our team! We also organised debates, a football tournament and a multi-cultural day at our school. These activities promoted exchange between people with different backgrounds. In addition we visited the Rotary Foundation in ‘s Hertogenbosch. They showed us what kind of work they do and gave us hint and tips on future (job-)possibilities. They also took us to a basketball game of the Eiffel Towers (the basketball team in Den Bosch), I had never could have imagined that I would be going there."
All three the girls now have a better idea of what they want to do in the future, Donya would like to be a team leader in the future, she really likes working in a team. Both Amal and Naziha would like to work with people, they are thinking about being a teacher, but are not sure yet. What do you think are the best points of Colourful Brabant Works and what things can be further improved in the future?
‘The contact with our coaches is very interesting and a strong point of the project. Each of the promotion team’s participants has a coach who has a lot of experience in the labour market, the coach helps the promotion team member in making the right decisions for the future. The promotion teams should always be formed of people with a lot of different social and cultural background, in this way the team members can benefit and learn the most from each other.’ The girls also value face-to-face contact with the project leaders very highly, it stimulates them if they have the feeling that they are supported by engaged project leaders.
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PowerPoint Presenation Colourful Brabant Works
20 Apr 2010, ppt, 685KB