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Lien's Story

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"With the qualification I have you can't go to an interim agency, so you have to rely on your own resources"

Lien Van der Meeren, 25 years, Belgium

"In 2004 I graduated as a pedagogical worker. When I finished school and started to search for a job, I realised that it isn't because you have a qualification, that it's easy to find a job. Though we have a good social protection system, you have to wait 9 months until you can get some support from the government.

"So first I had to do some other jobs which didn't correspond to my qualification. Those were jobs I had to do if I wanted to earn some money and to get integrated in society. The major problem while searching for a job, is that the organisations expect you to have some experience. But if you don't get the chance to start somewhere, you can't get any experience.

"After some time I had the luck to find a job that matched my qualification, but still it was just to replace someone who was pregnant. It's not easy to find a permanent job in the sector I graduated. After that I had again some jobs to fill the gap while I was searching for a job as a pedagogical worker. With the qualification I have you can't go to an interim agency, they can't help you there, so you have to rely on your own resources. Now I work for the YCW, so actually for the moment I can't complain.

"I think in Belgium we have a very good social protection system, but there still are a lot of young people who don't manage to find their way in the system and in society. I have met a lot of young people who have difficulties to find a permanent job.

"Especially for the young people who don't have a certificate it's very difficult. They have to change from one job to another and have to work many hours, but don't get paid as much as others, who are qualified. They get stuck in a kind of a vicious circle of temporary work and without any support it's very difficult for them to get out of. Often they don't feel appreciated in the work they do, they aren't satisfied and therefore they have a low self-esteem.

"For those people, the YCW wants to mean something. We want to help them in finding a good job, and in that way build self-confidence. Furthermore we want to help our members to make the right choice in their studies and give them the information they need about finding work and understanding the social protection system".

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