The STAP budget is being overhauled, but that does not yet mean that the ministry is removing many trainers from the scheme or is reclaiming money. Only three trainers, accounting for about 35 courses, were forced to leave the training register in the past year, but this decision was reversed after the intervention of the court, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment reports to BNR when asked.
The training budget of €1,000 was discredited after it became clear that trainers were using the scheme as a revenue model. Educators who offered gemstone courses and trips to Paris were paid out of the budget and this led to criticism. Minister Karien van Gennip (Social Affairs and Employment) promised that rules regarding the STAP budget would be tightened. For example, there is now only room for 300 students at each training, whose training is reimbursed by the government.
In the event of abuse, the ministry will also be able to exclude a course from the scheme more quickly in the event of abuse. ‘Previously, we only had the authority to remove trainers. But they often offer many courses, including some that did meet the subsidy requirements. That is why it has recently become possible to remove separate courses from the training offer,’ says a spokesperson for the ministry.
Hardly any courses were forced to be removed
This is still happening sparingly so far. In October last year, only three trainers were removed from the register by the ministry. The subsidy was also withheld from them, but the court ruled against the ministry, after which the withheld subsidy was still paid to these trainers. These trainers are probably now part of STAP’s training offer, says a spokesperson for the ministry. According to the spokesperson, about 5,000 courses have been voluntarily withdrawn from the training register.
Fighting teething problems
According to Arjen Edzes, professor of Regional Labor Market at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, the ministry is taking a good step in combating what he calls teething problems. Edzes would like to counterbalance all the negative reports about the STAP budget. “A lot of people use it. In that sense, the scheme can be called a success.’
By limiting the number of course participants, monopoly formation in the training register can be prevented, Edzes explains. ‘You prevent one provider from teaching thousands of students at the same time. And you also ensure that the range of education remains diverse.’ Other measures, such as no longer being allowed to offer gifts and travel, or testing acquired knowledge, can also count on his approval.
STAP stands for Stimulation Labor Market Position. The scheme is only a year old and is the successor to the tax deduction for educational expenses. Every working Dutch person over the age of 18 is eligible for a maximum of 1,000 euros per year to follow a course or training, provided that training or course is listed in the training register. The scheme has garnered much criticism. For example, trainers would benefit from the subsidy by quietly raising their prices and the usefulness of certain courses was questioned.