FutureLab50+ – The Netherlands

FutureLab50+ is an initiative launched by the JobOn Foundation, in collaboration with the municipality of Rotterdam and the municipality of Utrecht, that consisted in a varied, educational and inspiring online digital skills development program. It was targeted to citizens aged 50+ and has been successfully completed by 650 job seekers.

Get to know the initiative

In a nutshell, the team behind the FutureLab50+ reaches out to jobseekers with basic digital skills, inviting them to join the initiative’s interactive Escape Room. The outstanding characteristic is that in this Escape Room the roles are reversed because the unemployed have to put themselves in the shoes of a recruiter. This approach significantly improves the participant’s understanding of the recruitment process and provides valuable experience that can be applied in their future job-seeking endevours. After this experience, the initiatives complements the service offer through a workshop and bootcamp to create a personal digital development plan for each participant. The video teaser of the Escape Room can be found at the through this link.

The organisations involved have developed a successful program from, for and with job seekers that allows them to ensure that:

  • investing in digital skills pays off
  • more people can participate in society
  • the working population is prepared for a labor market that is increasingly digitalized

The use of an escape room ensures an interactive and fun approach for participants to learn and develop themselves. We like to inspire other countries with our scalable approach. We started locally in our own city of Utrecht, but then Rotterdam also started a local edition and know we are active in the entire country.

Since 2013, the JobOn foundation has been developing programs for job seekers and it has always been a key actor in strengthening (digital) skills. The organisation has been reaching the target group by setting up local networks and creating ambassadors with volunteers all over the country. These ambassadors received webinars, training and inspiring volunteer days through they could draw attention to the skills development programs. The Foundation is also very active on social media, sharing articles, photos and videos and regularly disseminate their activities through creative campaigns in collaboration with students. 

The organisations behind FutureLab50+ maintain that a digitally skilled workforce is one of the pillars to ensure a competitive Europe. For this reason, the project was aimed at the large broad middle segment of people who do have basic skills and are still able to grow their competences, so that they are better able to relate to the digital transformation in the labor market. The initiative has employed an initial test that was aimed to determine what was the current digital skills level of the people involved in the project. Given that the scope of the projects was to target people that wanted to improve upon their digital skills, those who showed very low or no digital skills levels were referred to partner organisations that addressed the specific group.

Why is Teach for future so important?

There is a great shortage in the labor market with occupations related to the ICT sector and demanding digital skills, while yet there are still people who are unemployed at home. This is partly the result of a mismatch due to a lack of dCigital skills in a labor market where changes are happening at lightning speed. Digitization is increasing in several fields, from Artificial Intelligence to cybersecurity and robotization while at the same time fake news and deepfakes are being are increasingly becoming more widespread.

Today’s teenagers grow up with technology, but the older target groups sometimes faces increased challenges to approach the new technologies and learn how to properly employ them in a professional environment. Many screen workers are insufficiently digitally skilled, there is less job satisfaction and productivity is low. The programme has shown that everyone can develop themselves and especially 50+ people have to learn again and that learning can be fun.

These are the fundamental reasons that led the JobOn Foundation, in collaboration with the municipality of Rotterdam and the municipality of Utrecht, to developed a different but impactful development program that has been successfully completed by 650 job seekers and that brought proven results. FutureLab is a free and accessible program that ensures that people get a growth mindset and develop their digital skills.

Why is FutureLab50+ a good practice?

The programme has trained more than 650 jobseekers. In 2022, the initiative had 12 different groups starting the program and has expanded since then. Currently, a research agency is also conducting an impact study delving into the effects of the FutureLab.

The main results:

  • 75% of the participants indicate afterwards that they have more insight on the influence of digitization on the labor market
  • 67% of the participants indicate afterwards that they have increased their digital skills
  • 78% of the participants indicate afterwards that they are more aware of their own digital skills
  • 98% of the participants recommend the FutureLab to other job seekers 
  • After the successful first project, the Foundation started new collaborations with the goal to train 1000 people in 2023.

The project started for jobseekers but the organisations behind the programme aim to support the development the digital skills of employees. For this reason, they started to create partnerships with companies all over the country. Currently, not only the need to invest in digital skills is increasing but also it is essential to determine the adequate follow-up actions in the unemployed’s personal action plan because the learning process ia a long-term committment and should be carefully planned. This approach has sparked the current collaboration with various providers for courses and training so that participants can continue their personal development afterwards.

The project has shown that older generations are very interested and capable to learn and improve upon their digital skills. The essential aspect is being able to provide a varied, educational and inspiring online journey of discovery.

Good Practice Information

Website link
Start date
End date
Target audience
Digital skills for the labour force.
Digital skills for all
Digital technology / specialisation
Digital skills
Digital skill level
Geographic Scope - Country
Industry - Field of Education and Training
Inter-disciplinary programmes and qualifications involving Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs)
Type of initiative
National initiative
Type of Funding
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