Shirley van den Kolk guides students to paid work in student transport.Photo: Shirley van den Kolk/Inner-Aktie

Shirley van den Kolk, director of Inner-Aktie, can no longer hear the word ‘staff shortage’. After her premature departure from Connexxion, she prepares people who are on welfare and only do voluntary work for a paid job in student transport. “Look beyond your nose.”

“I started as a weekend driver at the Raalte taxi company,” says Shirley van den Kolk. “After that I started doing student transport. So I have always expanded my work. After some wandering, Connexxion called me to ask if I wanted to return to the taxi industry. In the end I started working there as a regional manager.”

Excess Van den Kolk worked at Connexxion until five years ago. However, that employment ended abruptly. After an operation, she was declared ‘redundant’ by her employer at the time. “Unfortunately, when I came back to Connexxion, I was told that my position had ended. I was allowed to have three hundred more bad news conversations, but after that my best-before date had been reached. Then I chose to sign at the cross and leave.”

“After that I entered the WW. I had some offers, but I wanted to completely change course. I was once a welfare mother myself. Nevertheless, I managed to build a nice career. I used that experience to start my own company. I decided to motivate people who are on welfare to go back to work. When I was a social assistance mother myself, I noticed that you really depend on who your consultant is and how much they are committed to you. If you give people more confidence, they are less dependent on it. They start to believe in themselves more than they take control themselves. I wanted to convey that feeling. This is how Inner-Aktie came into being.”

‘I transport’ With her current company, Shirley van den Kolk helps people who are on welfare and only do voluntary work to work in student transport. It does this by offering various courses and training. One of these is the ‘I transport’ training. During this training, participants work towards obtaining their taxi pass, and then take the step to paid work in student transport.

“The candidate first receives an intake with the carrier, because that ultimately also becomes the employer. If the carrier has confidence in the nominated candidate, he will come to us. We then check whether he is actually motivated. If that is the case and the candidate also fits well with the target group, he will join us in the training. Then he gets at least sixteen weeks, every week, at least three hours of lessons.”

“The training consists of a practical and theoretical part. We have a practical instructor who will drive with the candidates. People who are on welfare often do not have a car, so they lack driving experience. In addition, we have three trainers who prepare the candidates for the theory. We also take elements of our basic training courses to give the candidates more self-confidence. What is your work ethic, what are the agreements with an employer and how do you deal with colleagues? We’ll take all of that with us.”

Message Inner-Aktie has trained a total of 22 candidates and is now active for ten municipalities. Although she is proud of this result, Shirley van den Kolk thinks it is more important that the message behind it is conveyed. It therefore has an important message for potential employers. “Guys, look beyond your nose. There is a target group that is currently not being used. The outside world often thinks that people on welfare do not want to work. But that is not true. Nine times out of ten they are simply afraid of new disappointments. By sharing my own experiences, I try to break through that barrier. If they succeed, you will see that they slowly regain their faith in their own abilities. With this message I want to help as many people as possible. That is my goal.”

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