Funny how your life can switch paths from one moment to the next!

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2 years ago
Topics: Future, Goal, Grateful, Feelings, Life, ...

Something to contemplate with a new year coming soon.

Strange how life can switch tracks on you from one moment to the next, and set you on a path which you’d completely expected to have left to never return to years ago. I had this happen to me this week, and it came from somewhere I’d completely given up on doing anything positive for me half a decade ago. The government. I know right?

Some handy information for those not Dutch.

Now with the international mix of people here, it might be beneficial for a lot of you to explain a little bit about how social security and unemployment works where I come from. Let me start that explanation by saying that I will be explaining how things are right now.

The Class is in session. :)

The social security and unemployment laws and regulations here have changed a lot over the past years seemingly with every government “color” change, and what we have now is only the latest iteration of those. Basically, it’s supposed to be that when you’ve worked for 5 years and get unemployed you first fall under the “care” of the UWV and you get an unemployed “uitkering”, which is a payment of 70% of the wages you had when you were fired. This can last for at most 2 years during which you’re obligated to apply for a job at least 5 times per month and the UWV will actively assist and push you to get a fitting job for you.

Now for me, that is a decade ago so my experiences with this period of being unemployed might not be relevant anymore but for me, this was a complete shitshow. I was going through a lot of things back then that didn’t really allow me to hold a full-time job so that opened up a whole additional can of problems but anyway that is not what this piece is about.

What this article IS about

After those two years, you get a demotion of sorts and get what is called a “participation law” payment.

The letter of the law is described here:

Participatiewet | (dutch)

Kind of lofty but okay intentions

When this law was implemented it was meant to be that when you received a payment under this law you were obligated to apply for a job 4 times per month as well as participate with all projects and initiatives that the agency charged with managing the implementation of this law deemed beneficial for your chances of gaining employment. This was thought up to satisfy the general opinion in the country that when you received payment from the government you should do something for it in return, to participate in society.

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Nonsensacle, worthless and timewasting $h1t

Well, I shall not bore you with how well that went for the first 5 to 8 years but let us summarize it by telling you that I, an IT Support Specialist with 30 years of experience was forced to participate in a project called “Activation” where I built a footrest for my grandmother and made a painting of Darth Vader. I kid you not!

And I don't want to think about what it cost for the taxpayers

Anyway about 2 years ago the government agencies responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Participation law payments and the organization that implemented it actually took a look at the organization and what was going on and shit their pants, consequently shutting down the whole thing from one day to the next. They decided the municipal governments were going to take control and implement their own strategies on getting the people under the law back into the working population.

Decentralized approach, letting the local government take over...

I can’t speak for any other municipalities but here they decided that every payment receiver was to get his/her personal “work-coach” who was going to make a personal plan together with the unemployed person in which a road to employment was set out. 

That is basically the way the law says it is supposed to work.

Sounded awesome…

but the municipality managed to screw that up significantly by under-budgeting and understaffing the work-coaches resulting in people like me being forced to undergo “CV writing courses” and “Positive thinking” workshops and so on in the first two months after the start of the work-coach project and then hearing nothing from the work-coaches anymore or being able to reach them in any way.

The best thing I got out of it back then was a budget to buy a set of clothing to wear to job interviews which was just enough to buy shoes and pants and a belt. Then there were 14 months of silence.

Of course, disappointed and demotivated I didn't mind them leaving me alone.

So three weeks ago I got a notice that I was to make an appointment with my new work-coach to get acquainted and basically set out a new plan for employment. Well, you can imagine my enthusiasm considering my past experiences.

I had a picture of a facepalm here but the editor refused to insert it...

And my reluctance was seemingly justified when I was sent (obligatory, under penalty of having my payment halved if I failed to attend) to something called “Meet and Match ICT”. But as I had no choice I did show up and it was exactly what I expected it to be. Some agency was hired to set up a ‘course’ to focus our ambitions and efforts towards feasible goals in today's job market, and help to recognize the talents and skills in ourselves that were marketable… or something to that effect.

Another picture refused to be placed by the editor....

Well, we were dragged through floaty fluffy TED-like concepts like Ikagai:

I wanted to show THIS but the editor doesn't like me anymore...

And inspirational quotes like:

Another refused picture.

We also got to sit through thrilling videos like this one:

Apparently, the video embedding function works...

On the second day (it was multiple days) we were told to write down what our ideal jobs were, what we thought our talents were, what made us happy, and all kinds of similar ethereal nonsense before we got to what seemed like the point of it all, our curriculum vitae’s.

Now pictures do work?? huh? Anyway...

I was so glad to be done with that crap I can’t even tell you. Or at least I thought I was done with it. Because the Meet and Match ICT ‘course’ was to be closed off with a personal conversation with the ‘trainer’ and the work-coach, in which concrete goals and agreements were to be made going forth into the future towards getting a steady job again.

Maybe something can come out of it after all?

Well, I had mine yesterday and well, I have to be honest… It seems like that my attitude and decision to do my best during the project, despite the bullshit and my low expectations, paid off. During the conversation (through MS-Teams of all things but that’s something maybe for another article) I was asked what I needed to improve my chances in the job market. I answered truthfully saying that I needed regulations to change so 18-year-old hotshot graduates weren’t 40% cheaper to hire than 47 year old me, and certification for the skills and knowledge I gained over a 30-year career, and a new set of clothes for job interviews.

I was promised that they’d see what they could do about the certification and after I got some certification I would get help getting the right clothes. Again, I was skeptical but low and behold, this afternoon I got a WhatsApp message!

Translated this message said:

Hello, Christ. Through Hans I have received a nice process with first of all a certification for MS365 including substantive support. We're gonna get this one and pay for it. If this works, I still have the option to pay for 2 more certifications. I'm going to start everything here with the application and payment, you can start as soon as possible. I'll call you on Monday. Greetings Arris”

I was kind of flabbergasted!

So it looks like I will be starting the new year by studying for a Microsoft 365 exam and certificate in February! And the study material and preparation support, as well as the exams, are going to be paid for by the government!!!

Me, 47 years old, back hitting the books and having exam anxiety, last-minute all-night cram sessions….. I am looking forward to it.

So to come back to the first sentence…

Until yesterday I was fully expecting to be heading for another year like the past few years, stuck in the situation I was in, struggling to get ahead without really gaining traction or having viable outlooks on getting a job or anything else to change the flow of my daily life. Writing a lot of stuff, posting it online somewhere ( of course since the beginning of this year) and other than that just keeping busy between visits from my son.

Then life decided to switch paths

Today I am looking at getting the chance to study, get Microsoft Certification for 365, and then 2 more certification courses (got my eye on Certified Ethical Hacker CEH - Certified Ethical Hacker | CEH Certification | CEH v11 | EC-Council ( )

Excited despite me!

And though I’ve learned over the years not to get excited and enthusiastic about promises like this, and I’ve held on to my skepticism throughout this Meet and Match project, at this point it seems so much to be a done and done deal that despite my best efforts, I am optimistic if not downright excited about the near and far future in a way I haven’t been in years. I am actually looking forward to the coming year and am determined to take advantage of the opportunity that is being offered to me this time!

I'm sure there's a lesson to be learned from all this. Which lesson you'll have to figure out for yourself.

I will keep you, my friends and the wider community informed about this and what it will eventually turn out to work out!

Thanks for reading this.

Stay safe and stay happy!


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2 years ago
Topics: Future, Goal, Grateful, Feelings, Life, ...