Good education through the Educational Agenda Limburg
In 2014 Trudie Schils, professor of Economics of Education, was one of the driving forces behind the start of the Educational Agenda Limburg. The agenda is a long-term project seeking to improve education in the province and the connection to the labour market. The first concrete results have since been unveiled, including a monitor to track pupils’ and students’ development. But she is most proud of the cooperation involved. “Primary, secondary, vocational and higher professional education have joined forces with the university and speak with one voice.”
Why do we need an Educational Agenda Limburg—surely the link between education and the labour market is a national, not a provincial, issue? It’s not the first time Schils has heard the question. She and her colleagues from Maastricht University had to pull out all the stops to get the intended grant providers (including the Province of Limburg) on board. “In several respects, Limburg simply isn’t comparable with other regions. Because of its location, the province is often oriented more towards Belgium and Germany than the Netherlands. And the problems that certain regions face are bigger than elsewhere: ageing, a shrinking labour market. In the former mining areas, unemployment is systematically higher, incomes and labour participation lower. There are fewer people who go on to higher education, and more people with health problems, more school leavers, teenage mothers, young people turning to crime. Cities like The Hague and Rotterdam face specific challenges too, but they’re completely different. And those are large cities, while Parkstad, for example, is a collection of smaller municipalities. That calls for a different approach and greater cooperation.”
Trudie Schils was raised in Maastricht and studied in Tilburg. She worked as a researcher at the University of Amsterdam and moved to Maastricht University in 2008; first as an assistant professor, then associate professor, and now professor of Economics of Education.