Vocational education in the practice on the job – Roetz Bikes

Vocational education in the practice on the job – Roetz Bikes


About the practice

Where: Amsterdam, The Netherlands 
Start date: 2018
Status: active
Beneficiaries: People with a distance to the labour market (e.g., persons with intellectual and/or learning disabilities; NEETs; people who have been unemployed for a long time; refugees/asylum seekers)
Funded by: Perspectief op Werk (Job Perspectives)



The pilot MBO Praktijkleren (practical learning) is a collaboration between vocational institutions (MBO), conventional companies, the Municipality of Amsterdam, sheltered workshops and the Dutch Employee Insurance Agency (UWV). The aim is to offer workers with support needs the opportunity to learn professional skills at the workplace. People are provided with a very accessible way to obtain a basic qualification in growing sectors of technology, hospitality, gardening/landscaping and healthcare. The skills are recognized by MBO and rewarded with a practical skills certificate.

One of the companies offering these types of apprenticeships is Roetz Bikes, a social enterprise that focuses on participation and circular economy. In order to achieve this, the company reuses and recycles old bikes by employing and training workers with support needs. At the bike factory, people learn and work in a safe environment. The objective of the practical learning pilot is to create perspective and wage value for workers with support needs with the aim of offering them a paid position in bicycle service or beyond.

In 2020, 79 people followed a learning trajectory at Roetz Bikes.


The practice is delivered as an educational trajectory. The needs of each employee are evaluated within the framework of a personal development plan on the basis of which the training at the workplace is tailored. The progress is monitored by the job coaches and the daily supervision is done by the workshop manager. Usually, a learning trajectory at Roetz Fair Factory has a duration of six months, when working 32 hours per week. This can be adjusted depending on the needs of each participant. After the trajectory, the person trained can start working at a potential employer (usually a bicycle company), where he/she has a probationary period of 2 months. During that period, an assessment of whether such work can lead to long-term employment is carried out.


Participants are trained to become experienced bicycle mechanics. Both soft and technical skills are developed.


The pilot can be considered innovative because of the efforts put in it by all the stakeholders. The practice has been improving the employability (with assistance) of people with a greater distance to the labour market offering them the opportunity to get a practical skills certificate. Pilot MBO fixes a gap in the Dutch educational system and is able to reach a target group that otherwise would have been left out of the educational system. Because of the focus on individual needs, it offers an approachable learning method for a large and diverse group of people.


People with a distance to the labour market and in vulnerable positions that are taking part in the training are able to gain the confidence and the experience to actively participate in the workforce. According to a yearly impact research conducted by Roetz, employees are very satisfied with the training and feel to be more confident and increasingly able to work independently. Thanks to the practice, their technical knowledge and productivity have increased as well. 

To guarantee its sustainability in the following years, the pilot can count on funding from the initiative Perspectief op Werk (Job Perspectives). For this initiative, the Dutch ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has made 2 million EUR available per designated region. The funding contains three elements: funding for the educational aspect, funding for the support at the workplace and funding for the project management of the practice. The municipality and the Dutch Employee Insurance Agency are key partners in ensuring the funding of the project management and the educational aspect. Moreover, all the stakeholders agree on the fact that the costs of the support at the workplace should not become the sole responsibility of the employers, since this could endanger the willingness of employers to participate. Therefore, on a national level, they are working on subsidization to link these practical statement schemes to existing vocational educational funding. 


The European Commission  support for the production of this publication does not constitute endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

The B-WISE project, Blueprint for Sectoral Cooperation on Skills in Work Integration Social Enterprises, is an Erasmus + project coordinated by EASPD with the support of ENSIE.