In the Netherlands, career guidance is offered by various private and public institutions. The main guidance services are being offered in the areas of the educational system, governmental bodies, employers and trade unions and private-sector organizations. 

In the Netherlands there is a strong base for career management skills in the educational system. The theoretical base are the five career management skills identified by Prof. Dr. Marinka Kuijpers: (1) reflection on capacities, (2) reflection on motives, (3) work exploration, (4) career directedness, (5) networking. 

The education of these skills is legally binding for secondary education, pre-vocational and VET institutes.

Guidance activities of the public employment sector are targeted at adults and youngsters at risk and is provided by the public employment Service UWV, Service Centers Education and Work (know as the 'leerwerkloketten'), employer centers, Municipalities, etc. and is commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment.

Guidance activities of employers and trade unions are targeted at employees. The 35 Regional Mobility Teams (RMTs) in the Netherlands are an initiative of the Ministries of Social Affairs and Employment and Education, Culture and Science, municipalities, the UWV, SBB, the MBO Council, trade unions and employer organisations. Information will be completed in the spring of 2022.

Guidance activities of private-sector organizations are targeted at almost all citizens.

Many organisations in the Netherlands offer career guidance or similar services – mostly for dedicated target groups. Often they are (co)funded by the government.

The guidance activities of the government focus on setting an Ambition Agenda with the diverse actors and monitor the progress. This will be explained further in the section ‘policy’. 


The Ministries of Social Affairs and Employment draw up minimum national standards for career guidance, programme information and study choice-related activities for secondary education, upper secondary vocational education and tertiary education.

Policy measures have enshrined career education and guidance in the curriculum of pre-vocational education institutions and VET colleges in law and assigned the duty of supervising career education and guidance to the Inspectorate of Education. Furthermore, the Dutch Secondary Education Council and the Netherlands Association of VET Colleges have joined forces to establish the Career Education and Guidance Centre of Expertise, which have been in operation since July 2018. Since 1th januari 2020 The Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, joined the Centre of Expertise as well. The Centre of Expertise supports with the quality improvement of career guidance and is funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science. 

In addition to the study choice check, schools and education institutions also organise other activities to help students to learn to choose their path to suitable (further) education or work. The Ministry of Education has noticed that schools and educational institutions from the same region increasingly collaborate when organising such activities and raising students’ awareness of them. They see great partnerships between secondary schools, VET colleges and tertiary education institutions, in which the various parties share responsibility for supporting students when they transition from one institution to the next. When establishing partnerships in the region, schools can use figures on their students’ transfers between schools and degree programmes, which will help them determine how to further improve their policies. To this end, National Cohort Research (NRCO) (which keeps track of pupils and students) has sent all primary and secondary schools in the Netherlands reports on how their pupils perform in further education.

Over the last few years, education institutions, teachers, career teachers, guidance counsellors, sector councils, adolescents’ and students’ organisations, the government and other parties involved have managed to raise awareness of career education and guidance. The ministry of education ensured that career education and guidance have been incorporated into the curriculum. Policy measures such as enshrining career education and guidance in the curriculum of pre-vocational education institutions and VET colleges in law and assigning the duty of supervising career education and guidance to the Inspectorate of Education have contributed to this.

The sector councils governing secondary and tertiary education and senior secondary vocational education have taken up the gauntlet to work on improvements, in association with adolescents’ and students’ organisations (the Association of Secondary School Pupils, the Association of Students in Senior Secondary Vocational Education, the Dutch National Students’ Association, the National Student Union) and career teachers’ associations (the Netherlands Association of School Guidance Practitioners and the Association of Career Guidance Practitioners in Secondary Education). Parties working in secondary schools and VET colleges have drafted an Ambition Agenda for improving the quality of the career education and guidance activities offered to pupils.

The various agendas outline the requirements schools’ CEG policies must satisfy and the agreements made regarding the study choice check. Each agenda outlines what pupils and students can expect from their schools, and vice versa, what schools and/or educations institutions may expect from their pupils or students. Given that the representatives of the students’ and adolescents’ organisations expressed different needs and that the various school types are very different, the Ministry opted to have each school type draw up its own agenda, with its own focal points. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science acted as a facilitator in the related discussions.


The career guidance system in the Netherlands is decentralised and involves a diversity of public and private career providers.

Guidance activities within the educational system

Career guidance in secondary schools is regulated by the Secondary Education Act and in VET by Wet Educatie en Beroepsonderwijs (education law for VET). Supervision by the Inspectorate is done on the basis of regulations by law. In higher education career guidance is regulated differently and supervision is done by the NVAO (Nederlands en Vlaams accreditatie organisatie).

In November 2017 schools in further education, VET and higher education committed themselves to ambitious goals to improve career guidance.

With regard to the guidance activities within the educational system guidance is targeted at students and pupils in secondary, vocational and higher education and is provided by:

  • Teachers/mentors (first line support)
  • Career teachers/coordinator (second line support)
  • Remedial teachers (second/third line support)
  • External private parties (third line support)

Educational institutions are legally bound to deliver support in career guidance to students, to develop career competences and to prepare students for the labour market or further education. A lot of improvements have been made in the last years. Schools are free in the way in which Career orientation and guidance in education (‘Leer en Loopbaanbegeleiding’ in Dutch) is organised in schools and it depends largely on the governance of the schools and the school counsellors. Contents vary also substantially as the schools determine themselves which objectives they aim to achieve. These objectives can cover a wide spectrum, such as socio-emotional guidance, tutoring, reflection on their own abilities and motivation, training and work exploration programmes. 

Guidance activities within the labour market

In all labour market regions one or more “Leerwerkloketten” are established. These Service Center on Education and Work are network organisations in which public employment service, municipalities, educational institutes, knowledge centres and labour market institutions work together. They act as a link in the region between labour market and education. They develop activities, services and products, provide lifelong career guidance and contribute in the creation of arrangements for learning on the job. For further information see www.leerwerkloket.nl.

Each labour market region has its own region page. Here you can find national, sector and occupational information and other important labour market information about your own region. For example the Regional Newsflash, the Regional Monthly Figures Labour Market Information and Region in View.


Career teachers, guidance counsellors and teachers dealing with career education and guidance must receive proper training in order to ensure that they are capable of providing the right advice. The ability to properly support pupils and students in their personal development, study choice and career orientation requires specific knowledge and skills. It is crucial that career teachers, tutors, teachers and guidance counsellors know what they are expected to do, have a clear job description with regard to providing support and are given the opportunity to get better at their jobs by means of training courses.

In parallel with the implementation of Duisenberg’s motion, Euroguidance, at the behest of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, has developed a framework for career counsellors in 2017. This framework outlines what career education and guidance counsellors at differing levels within schools should ideally know and be able to do. The framework is a helpful document that allows secondary schools and VET colleges to give effect to their ambitions with regard to expert career counselling.


There is a wide variety of excellent courses available to career counsellors. Both the overview of training courses and the framework can be found on the website of the Career Education and Guidance Centre of Expertise. The Centre of Expertise raises schools’ awareness of these courses. In collaboration with the Netherlands Association of School Guidance Practitioners, the Association of Career Guidance Practitioners in Secondary Education and other parties, the Centre of Expertise will develop products that will help schools and encourage them to discuss the quality of their career-counselling activities. 

Dutch Universities includes courses on human resources, job placement and career guidance. In 2017 Euroguidance Netherlands produced an overview of education possibilities on career guidance or related topics. For the bachelor degree in Human Resource Management (HRM) and Applied Psychology only a few schools offer the option of career counsellor specialisation. Teachers, career teachers and career professionals have access to part time training with duration of two years in four training centres.



In the Ambition Agenda on Career Guidance Education (CGE) of the Ministry of Education (2016 and 2017) quality assurance of CGE is addressed specifically. The quality of CGE in secondary education and VET sectors is legally monitored by the Educational Inspectorate. This results in a yearly publicized educational report. Apart from this schools do have their own monitoring of the quality of CGE, which can to a great extend differ between schools.

The Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) is a research institute of the Maastricht University School of Business and Economics. Through its research, the institute aims to improve the understanding of the relationship between education and the labour market. The overarching research theme of ROA is the acquisition and depreciation of human capital over the life course in relation to the dynamics of the labour market. One of the research lines is Education and occupational career. The focus of this programme is twofold. It studies the development of competences during education and the transition from school to work, as well as the subsequent occupational careers. Results are publishes yearly.

The Job Monitor is an instrument of the VET student interest organisation (JOB). It is a biannual monitor which measures student satisfaction. CGE is also being measured.

The UWV (PES) service pays special attention to the quality and outcomes of their services. Various instruments are used to measure and improve the services, such as a customer panel.


Educational institutions publish their regulations regarding ethics available on their websites, such as an integrity code, a privacy regalement and a regulation of unwanted behaviour.

The lack of dedicated bachelor/master education is related to the fact that the occupation of career guidance professional, counsellor or other career related titles are not legally formalized. Therefore most professionals register themselves in the professional register of Noloc. Noloc is the Dutch association for career professional with about 2700 members. The Noloc members work as career coaches, outplacement consultants, re-integration specialists or vocational counsellors. More than 50% of them are independent or entrepreneurs, while the other members are employees working in internal career centres of companies, (semi) public organizations (e.g. schools) or in consulting firms.

If a VET guidance counsellor is a members of the Dutch association for career professional (Noloc), they are obliged to respect the Noloc Code of Ethics in their practice and to submit themselves to an independent Complaints Council in the event of a complaint being lodged by a client. 

For the people who work at UWV (Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen) a Code of Conduct is applicable about confidential information and their position and role. 'Respectful, open, responsible, professional' are the key words in the UWV Code of Conduct in which the agreements and rules of play for integrity behaviour at UWV are included.

Last updated at: November 2022