Activation programmes - company internship, wage-subsidised jobs and training

When you have been unemployed for a period, you are entitled and required to participate in activation programmes. Activation programmes include training, company internship or wage-subsidised jobs.

When unemployed you must be available to the labour market to be eligible for benefits  One of your duties as unemployed is to attend interviews at your Jobcenter or CA at a day’s notice. It is mandatory to participate in the activities offered by the Jobcenter.  

You have the right and the duty to participate in activation programmes after having been unemployed for a total of 26 weeks. Your Jobcenter must offer you programmes or other activities that improve your chances of getting a job. Below are examples of the activities the Jobcenter can offer:

Together with your Jobcenter you agree what activities best match your needs and labour market demand.

In other words, your Jobcenter is responsible for your activation, but can choose to outsource their responsibility to a secondary operator who may be a private company.

Before joining an activation programme  you are required to draw up a job plan together with your Jobcenter (or, where applicable, a secondary operator).

The job plan must contain details on:

  • Employment goals
  • Activity plans
  • Agreed activity
  • Responsibility for signing up for activity
  • Date and hour of activity start
  • Responsibility and date for follow-up on the job plan

Even though the Jobcenter draws up the job plan together with you, it is the Jobcenter that ultimately approves the contents of your job plan.

If you want to make corrections to your job plan, a revision is required. Your job plan will be revised together with the Jobcenter. If you’re sick and need to suspend your participation in an activation programme, your job plan must also be revised. Your Jobcenter may also take the initiative to revise the job plan.

As a general rule, you’ll be paid the same benefit rate as usual.

If you’re below the age of 25 and have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks, your rate is 82% of the highest amount of benefits.

Read more about benefit rates

The different types of activation programmes and opportunities available to you

A company internship is a short-term either 2 to 4 weeks unpaid work experience giving you and the company an opportunity to get to know one another. If you are a new graduate and receive benefits at the special rate for new graduates, your company internship can be for 8 weeks.

The aim of a company internship is to give you an insight into what type of job is right for you. Or to find out whether you need to improve your qualifications or need guidance on how to land a job in a particular industry.

As internships are relatively short term, it is often used as a springboard for ordinary paid employment or a wage-subsidised job.

During the company internship, you must work full time.

The company internship must not be in the company where you have most recently worked. Nor can you become an intern in a company where you have just had a wage-subsidised job. But you can take a wage-subsidised job after having worked as an intern in the same company.

You’ll receive benefits during a company internship. Therefore you must also be searching for jobs and meet the same criteria as usual

A wage-subsidised job is a good way to gain work experience in a specific field or to get a foot in the door. With a wage subsidy, you receive training and are given an opportunity to improve your professional, social and language skills.

You make agreements on a wage-subsidised job together with your Jobcenter. You can be employed for up to 6 months in the private sector and up to 4 months in the public sector. You make use of your benefits entitlement while in a wage-subsidised job.

You’ll receive wages when you have a wage-subsidised job. If you’re employed in the private sector, you will make a wage agreement with your employer. If you’re employed in the public sector, your wages will equal your benefit rate.

Unfortunately, you cannot use the hours you work in a wage-subsidised job to earn rights e.g. to avoid disqualification or extend your right to benefits or regain for benefits.

You must continue to search for jobs and generally be available for work while in a wage-subsidised job. Therefore your employer is obliged to give you time off to go to meetings or job interviews etc. Your Jobcenter can, however, exempt you from searching for jobs if your employer promises to offer you permanent employment when your wage-subsidised employment ends.

As part of the activation programmes, your Jobcenter (or a secondary operator) can allow you to take training while you receive benefits.

It is a condition that the training improves your skills to fit labour market needs. For example, if you have been offered a job on the condition that you have special skills or learn a specific piece of software before you start. Then you can apply for training to improve your skills at the expense of the Jobcenter (or a secondary operator).

If you find training or a course you want to take, it’s always a good ide to ask the Jobcenter (or a secondary operator) to include it in your job plan. One reason is that your Jobcenter will pay any course fees. Secondly, there are strict restrictions on the training you may take while receiving benefits if the training is not part of your job plan.

Read more about training opportunities while unemployed