Practical courses in care and technology grow in popularity

The Netherlands is experiencing an increase in enrolments in vocational (MBO) healthcare and technology courses. According to statistics from the MBO Council, demand for practical training in technology or healthcare is growing fast. In Amsterdam, the energy transition is without a doubt a key driver for the growing interest in technology, newspaper Het Parool notes.

The number of people enrolling in MBO courses in care and technology in and around Amsterdam is rising. In 2022, enrolment at Tetrix Amsterdam, which provides MBO-level education and technology courses, increased by 20%. The number of registrations at the Amsterdam ROC Westpoort increased by 8.7%, somewhat more than the national average. NOVA College, with multiple locations throughout Noord-Holland, has also noted a rise but is unable to yet give specific numbers.

Notably, the increase in enrolments is not limited to pre-vocational secondary education students. There is a growing number of mature students, that is, workers who are seeking a new career, transitioning for instance from being a manager at a supermarket to an installer in the construction sector. According to Jeffrey Rispens, Tetrix’s representative for PR and marketing, an Occupational Guidance Learning Path (BBL) training is especially well suited for this target audience. In this set-up, students work several days a week as trainees for a business, while going to school only one day per week. Rispens explains that mature students frequently already have a household to maintain and require an income. For them, returning to school full-time is typically not an option. In the Gelderland MBO institution Aventus, over 300 students over the age of 40 began a BBL trajectory last year – three times as many as in 2020. Most of them began in the technology and healthcare industries.

In 2022 compared to 2021, BBL courses in healthcare and technology increased by 8 percent. In the Netherlands, more than 19,000 individuals began practical training in the healthcare, welfare and sports sectors in 2017; 11,000 started in the ‘technology and built environment’ courses. The increase is even more notable given that the total number of MBO registrations decreased by 1.5 percent, which has not happened in years.

According to Eric Linthorst, chairman of the collective training businesses in the north and east of the Netherlands, ‘technology is presently gaining increasing attention, in part because of the energy transition and sustainability. Due to the personnel shortage, parents believe there is great career stability in the sector of technology. Also, technology now has a better reputation. It is currently viewed more as a pleasant blend of physical labour and mental activity.’

Considering the energy transition, Lyske Jolmers, head of marketing and communication at ROC Westpoort, explains that Amsterdam will need technical help if its energy goals are to be met in the future. Some mature students see working in technology as an opportunity to make a difference.

 The popularity of the programmes is also influenced by shortages in the labour market. Individuals may readily obtain employment due to the high employment rates in both technology and healthcare. HBO students’ earnings in the healthcare industry sometimes fall short of those in other industries, whereas MBO students have better starting incomes, according to Saskia Goedheer, a communication counsellor at NOVA College.

 Written by Nicole Bea Kerr