Many young people with chronic physical conditions, like everyone else, have the ambition to get to work in a great position, but find that there is a gap between them and the job market. The goal of the Emma at Work Foundation is to close this gap and help young people towards an independent future. The motto? Close the Gap. Tip: Will you become an Emma at Work GAP200 member through ADI? Then Hotel Okura will give you an overnight stay as a gift (promotion applies until the end of 2022)!

Emma at Work, born in 2006 as a project from Emma Children’s Hospital, celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in 2022 with a grand party at Pathé Tuschinksi. “What a great event it was!”, say Ruben van den Boer and Kim Verlegh, consultant and relationship manager, respectively, at Emma at Work, when we speak to them. “With moving videos of our young people and beautiful words from our founder Hugo Heymans. We were also pleased to present the wonderful Emma at Work Oeuvre Award, which Mayor Femke Halsema presented to Amsterdam UMC during the event. The reason Amsterdam UMC won this Award is that they have hired about 160 young people with physical disabilities in recent years. A valuable first step in a great career! In the video below, 4 young people talk about it. Definitely check it out!

How does Emma at Work bring these young people and employers closer together?

Partly because the foundation looks at both sides of the aforementioned gap. “On one side of the gap are employers. Emma at Work helps them in their quest,” said Verlegh . “Employers join us as GAP200members. This huge network of organizations not only provides jobs, but also supports young people in finding their own talent, growing their network and training their interview skills.” Meanwhile, nearly 50 companies have joined Emma at Work and the foundation works closely with major employers such as Port of Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, ABN Amro, Schiphol, Reade, Crunchr, Pathé and Nationale Postcode Loterij.

Cooperation with GAP200members is established through GAP200 membership for a minimum of three years, with the goal of building a lasting relationship with employers. Embedding inclusive employment into corporate culture is a multi-year plan, and Emma at Work supports employers in this area. In addition to placements, Emma at Work offers various workshops on diversity and inclusion, can conduct a QuickScan Inclusive Employership within the organization, and organizes impactful mentoring pitch or interview programs for employers where young people are paired with colleagues from the organization.

Youth development program
On the other side of the gap, ambitious young people await. Emma at Work coaches and trains them in their search for a beautiful and suitable job. Van den Boer: “That starts with questions like: Who are you? What can you do? Where do you want to get started? And what do you need to participate?”

“Next, each young person follows the ‘GAP Track,’ a free training program. This development track includes (group) training, coaching, and introduction to a large network of companies. During the GAP Track, a young person learns in theory and practice what his or her load capacity is. A young person learns what he or she needs to do the job well, and how to communicate this clearly to the future employer. And during employment, an Emma at Work consultant provides guidance to both the young person and the employer.”

emma at work flyer

What can you tell about the matches being made? How are those going?

Many young people and companies have since been matched, with positive feelings on both sides. With each match, it becomes apparent again that these very young people have a tremendous drive to be able to participate. In doing so, they inspire their colleagues. Not only the young people develop in such a match – the colleagues and employer also learn a lot from the young people.

It is also common for an employer to be positively surprised by the young people’s perseverance and self-knowledge. For example, many employers seem surprised at how well candidates can indicate what they need to do the job well. Van den Boer: “Candidates are also trained on this, because this is precisely something an employer cannot fill in himself. As a result, guidance during employment often runs very smoothly. Moreover, this motivates the employer to hire several new colleagues with a physical condition in the future.”

It is also important for employers to remember that candidates bring with them more than meets the eye. “The life experience, skills and abilities of the young people we work with are not on their resumes. They often only really become visible during employment,” Van den Boer believes. “A sustainable employment relationship is then created in which both the employee, supervisor and other colleagues continue to grow. With a positive feeling on both sides.”

Known makes loved

For hesitant employers, Emma at Work has listed the benefits. The foundation also thinks it helps their youth and employers connect more. Verlegh: “Known makes loved. During the GAPTrack, young people and employers meet in a practical training environment. Both parties become more aware of mutual expectations and needs. This puts you as an employer 1-0 ahead at the start of future employment.”

If employers would like to learn more about working with Emma at Work, relationship managers Kim Verlegh ( and Thomas Broedelet ( are happy to make an appointment to meet. They engage in further conversation about the employer’s strategy and goals and what Emma at Work can do within them. The relationship managers will explain the partnership, the GAP200 membership. Together we look at the support young people can receive in their (first) steps toward the labor market.

Tip: Will you become an Emma at Work GAP200 member through ADI? Then Hotel Okura will give you an overnight stay as a gift (promotion applies until the end of 2022)!

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