Free diplomas for those on the dole

The Centre for Work and Income (CWI) in the Netherlands has come up with an ingenious plan to devalue in one fell swoop 4 years of higher vocational training. They have announced their intention to hand unemployed without qualifications a diploma (NL) in the level of midmanagement, based on their 'life experience'.

The rationale for this unexpectedly brilliant move is the fact that it is exceedingly hard in these modern days to get a job without qualifications. A lot of the long-term unemployed do not have these. Providing them with some sort of qualification might increase their chances in a competitive job market.

Not wanting to detract from the utter brilliance of this scheme, I do have a couple of questions, though. These long-term unemployed, do they really not have the time to follow an education, forcibly if necessary, on pain of losing their benefits? And why is it necessary to give persons,who failed to provide for themselves any education, a diploma that entitles them to management starter positions?

The structure of Dutch higher education (after the Dutch equivalent of highschool) stems from a time when education actually meant something. When one was required to put in the intellectual and actual hardwork to achieve the best attainable level, given ones capacities. It was organized in three parts: MBO, HBO and university. Where university obviously trained future academics, HBO was where those destined for higher management would go, while people earning access to MBO were on track for independent middle class retail and middle management.

But such has been the devaluation of diploma's and indeed education in the Netherlands that it is now obviously enough to quit school when one reaches the age of eight, coast through puberty and beyond without the work and frustration of attending classes and still obtain a diploma that nominally declares one fit for middle management by exclusive virtue of having 'life experience'. Whatever that experience might be when one hasn't attended school or worked an honest day in ones life of suckling from the governments (rhymes with 'benefits').

So, what of those that actually put in the work for four years, attending classes, studying and passing actual exams to earn an MBO diploma? It would seem that this initiative tells them their hard work was all bullcrap. It tells them that for all their effort they have nothing more to show for then a diploma that isn't worth the paper it is written on. It tells our youth that staying home and on the dole is at least as profitable as getting up early and coming home late for four years. This tells us, all of us, that deep down we perversely reward sloth over labour.

Did I mention that I find this an exceptionally BAD idea?


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