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Offering opportunities to people facing barriers to the labour market!

As part of the LEARN project, aimed at improving labour participation and labour market position for people with a migration background, we, in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (SZW), visited a McDonald's restaurant in Utrecht on Thursday, February 16th.

Invited by Marijke Honing, employer, and member of the Learning Network, we spent a day experiencing what a workday at McDonald’s entails. In addition to flipping burgers, we spoke with employees, including (former) refugees, and heard how Marijke ensures an inclusive workplace.

Marijke employs no less than four hundred workers across five locations. These workers, ranging from refugees to persons with disabilities, receive not only a job but also intensive guidance. They are each matched with a manager or a crew trainer, providing them a platform to address any questions or concerns, fostering a more inclusive work environment. For Marijke, it goes beyond just providing work; she supports them with integration, housing, and debt restructuring, for example.

Many employees face daily administrative challenges, which is why McDonald’s Utrecht has designated a special ‘care day’ on Wednesdays to help their staff with their questions. Marijke emphasizes that more tailored application of regulations and streamlined coordination among involved agencies would make it easier for employers and employees to contribute to a more inclusive labour market.

During the visit to McDonald’s, we gained valuable insights for the LEARN project. We noticed how crucial it is for employees to learn the language in a work context, and that there should be more integrated language lessons in the workplace. This can ensure that employees can work full-time, instead of the current situation where they have to attend language school elsewhere for 16 hours a week.

Despite the challenges associated with employing a diverse group of workers, Marijke commits herself to all her employees. It was inspiring to see how everyone works together as a close-knit team, despite the different cultures and backgrounds.