Inspiring Approaches

AmsterdamThe “Amsterdam Approach” – inclusion measures for newcomers with refugee status

What is inspiring?

Amsterdam’s municipality has been developing specific inclusion measures for newcomers with refugee status since 2007. With the increased arrivals of refugees in 2015, municipal actors were able to draw on this longstanding experience and immediately identify the shortcomings of national asylum and integration policies. A year later, in 2016, Amsterdam responded proactively to the situation by developing a programme of intensive, sustainable and tailored support measures for migrants recognised as refugees, as part of its “Amsterdam Approach” scheme.


VluchtelingenWerk Nederland, Amsterdam


How does it operate?

The measures are “intensive” because refugees in Amsterdam can receive up to three years of social support (counselling), starting from the moment they receive refugee status. The coaching focuses on the development of a customised action plan, with short and long-term objectives. The municipality was one of the first to negotiate an agreement with the Dutch Centralised Reception Authority (COA), ensuring refugees can start the programme whilst they are still housed in refugee reception centres. The programme focuses on complementary measures in different domains (work, education, health care, housing, participation). “Intensive” also means personal, because dedicated “case managers” and social workers support migrants recognised as refugees in Amsterdam. These case managers collaborate with the Dutch Refugee Council, job hunters, income assistant counsellors and other specialists. In many Dutch municipalities, case workers supervise up to several hundred refugees at a time and support is provided for a shorter period. In Amsterdam, they advise a maximum of 50 people at a time, to ensure personalised support.

What is the outcome?

The city’s annual reports highlight how the labour market participation of Amsterdam refugees increased from 31% in 2017 to 37% in 2020. By contrast, labour market participation by refugees in other major Dutch cities ranges between 22-29%, with the exception of Eindhoven. Moreover, the labour market participation of refugee women in Amsterdam (19%) is higher than in any other major Dutch city (5-11%), as of 2020.

All inspiring approaches