Young people relatively often choose secondary vocational education

Young people at StudieBeurs West in Ahoy Rotterdam
© Hollandse Hoogte / Peter Hilz
After secondary education, young people up to the age of 25 are more likely to attend secondary vocational education (MBO) than higher vocational education (HBO) or university (WO). During the 2021/’22 academic year, 40 percent of young people under 25 participating in further education were enrolled in MBO. For HBO and WO, this was 35 and 25 percent, respectively. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this in its National Youth Monitor.

Over 437 thousand under-25s were attending MBO in the 2021/’22 academic year. This represented a small decline on previous years, when there was a slight rise. In addition, the number of HBO and WO students went up, resulting in a relatively smaller share of MBO students despite the higher number of enrolments.

Participation in further education, 0 to 24 yrs
StudiejaarMBO (x 1,000 students)HBO (x 1,000 students)WO (x 1,000 students)
* Provisional figures

Shift in course choice

There has been a shift in the course choices made by MBO students in recent years. Compared to ten years previously, fewer students were enrolled in 'law, administration, trade and business services’ in the 2021/’22 academic year. These include sales, (account) management and various administrative occupations. Furthermore, slightly fewer students are choosing ‘engineering, manufacturing and construction’; for instance, wood, sheet metal or plastic processing, (electrical) mechanics or construction.

At the same time, more young people were being trained in service occupations compared to the 2011/’12 course year. MBO students under 25 were more likely to attend a course in tourism and recreation or be trained as hairdressers, beauticians, catering entrepreneurs or bakers. Services also include courses in sports. ‘Health care and welfare’ is no longer the most chosen discipline among young people.

MBO course disciplines chosen by young people (0-24 years)
Studierichting2021/'22 academic year* (%)2011/'12 academic year (%)
Design, arts,
languages and history
behaviour and society
Law, administration,
trade and business services
Mathematics, natural sciences0.40.2
Technology, manufacturing
and construction
veterinary medicine and care
Health care and welfare22.321.3
Unknown or unspecified0.41.8
* Provisional figures

Retraining and upskilling in Care and welfare

Not only young people attend MBO: 13.5 percent of MBO students in the 2021/’22 academic year were aged 25 or older. These mature students often undertake MBO training alongside work in order to learn new skills. This is more likely in the 'Care and welfare' sector (57 percent) compared to the younger group. The age effect seems to have been amplified by the coronavirus pandemic. Particularly over the last few years, the share of MBO students aged 25 years and over enrolled in a Care and welfare programme has increased.

In contrast to younger people, MBO students over 25 are less likely to take courses in the Economics sector.

MBO sector enrolments by age category, 2020/'21 academic year*
SectorUnder 25 yrs (%)25 yrs and over (%)
Care and welfare33.057.0
Combination of sectors3.04.0
* Provisional figures

The Youth Monitor provides insight into the latest developments in the living situation of young people aged 0 to 25 years.