The largest Dutch private employer Philips has been running a private employment scheme (the Philips Employment Scheme, PES) for over twenty years. The scheme stands out for its durability (most other similar schemes are ephemeral) and its success in reintegrating the long-term unemployed into the work force.The combination of one year work experience and skills development within the PES seems to be fundamental to its success. As part of the scheme, Philips, in cooperation with relevant vakorganisaties (employer and employee organisations) designed and implemented a training programme, which currently offers 2,400 long-term unemployed the opportunity to acquire certified skills in the processing and metal industry (VAPRO and SOM). The acquisition of certified skills improves the lifetime employability of PES participants.
The success of the programme has not remained unnoticed to the wider private sector as Dutch energy company Nuon recently implemented its version of the PES. Surprisingly, the PES has received little attention from academic researchers so far. This research intends to fill that gap. We will start off using findings from Welters (2005), but intend to address its shortcomings. We will study four key decision processes within the PES concerning skill building:
- the recruitment procedures used by Philips and the Dutch labour exchange offices who identify candidates to Philips;
- the selection procedure Philips uses to offer ongoing work to PES participants after their 12 months is expired;
- the nature of the assistance provided to PES participants who Philips does not provide ongoing work for, to enhance their employment prospects; and,
- the attitude of employers towards PES participants.
We will identify the success factors of the PES and the social return on investment. Moreover we will consider the scope for extending PES type of employment schemes to other private sector employers and study contemporary initiatives.