Lifelong learning - Netherlands: new training budget for employees, entrepreneurs and job seekers

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The Dutch government has announced that as of 1 March 2022, employees, entrepreneurs and job seekers who have a link to the Dutch labour market can apply for a budget, the so-called "STAP budget".

The Dutch government has announced that as of 1 March 2022, employees, entrepreneurs and job seekers who have a link to the Dutch labour market can apply for a budget of up to EUR 1,000, including VAT, for training and development. This is called the ''STAP budget''. STAP stands for ''Stimulating Labour Market Position''. Applicants can use this budget to increase their chances of keeping their job or finding a new one. This could include training within a particular field, but also personal development such as leadership or communication. An amount of EUR 218,000,000 (including implementation costs and flanking policy) has been made available for the new subsidy scheme. It is expected that on an annual basis (only) approximately 200,000 to 300,000 people will be able follow a training course.

A STAP budget can be applied once a year per person − via the website of the UWV. The STAP account can only be used for training activities that are listed in the Training Register of the DUO (Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs). If the application is approved (in principle within four weeks), the budget is paid out to the training provider. The STAP account will only be granted for a training programme that starts within three months of the closure of the relevant application period of two months. For multi-annual education a period of five months from the end of the application period applies.

The STAP budget must be repaid if it has been wrongly granted or if the STAP budget obligations have not been met. This may be the case, for example, if the training is not completed or if no relevant circumstances for the STAP budget have been reported, including the inability to complete the training (on time). ''Completed'' means that the training must be completed with a diploma or certificate or that the recipient of the subsidy had at least an 80% attendance or participation rate.
The training provider can also be obliged to repay the subsidy if it has not fulfilled the obligations of the subsidy regulation.

If an employee makes use of the STAP account it does not discharge an employer from the obligation to provide the necessary training. Pursuant to the European Directive on transparent and predictable employment conditions (which must be implemented by 1 August 2022), mandatory training must be offered free of charge to the employee. But with the help of the STAP budget, applicants can continue to develop at the UWV's expense. Naturally employers will also benefit from this as it may allow employees to be employed across a wider spectrum and for longer periods of time.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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