The story of Erik-Jan

Gatekeeper on residential housing project Slotjes

Gatekeeper Erik-Jan regained his motivation on Slotjes residential housing project

THE STORY OF… | Since February 1, 2021, Erik-Jan de Korte's alarm goes off at 5:20 am: every working day. He doesn't mind, because now that he works as a gatekeeper on the Slotjes housing project in Oosterhout, he is fully involved in society again after a long time. He shares his story.

''My motivation is gone.' That's what I thought during the economic crisis and my period on welfare. I've worked hard all my life, so this situation was unimaginable. Yet it happened. During the economic crisis, my company went bankrupt and I ended up at home. But now that I'm back at work, I'm a free man again and I can contribute to society again.'

‘Through ‘Social return’ I ended up at the Slotjes construction site in Oosterhout, where I work as a gatekeeper. I take care of day passes, I am responsible of logistics when suppliers visit, I place small orders and I check VCAs of new employees. When freight traffic arrives, they call me to enter the construction site safely. The telephone rings continuously, but I already feel at home here and I have my drive back.”

Eager to learn

‘Both shipping and construction have always played a major role in my life. It started with my father, who was a sailor. I was intrigued to this work field as well, but I dropped out of college. I ended up as a salesman in home furnishings, where I sold small furniture, curtains and carpets. As a salesperson I wanted to know exactly what I was talking about, so on my Mondays off I went with the upholsterers to learn the upholsterer's trade. This is how I learned to lay carpet, make sealants, hang curtains and lay vinyl floors. I repeated the same working method later when I worked as a Salesman at a building materials store. That's how I learned to place kitchens and bathrooms and to lay tiles.'

‘Eventually, as an entrepreneur, I started a sanitary wholesaler for large ships. I worked for installers, ship carpenters and ship brokers and I worked for thirty ships a year. But in 2012, during the economic crisis, things went wrong. I postponed it for a long time, but I eventually had to file for bankruptcy. A tough period with stress and health problems followed. The search for a new job was not easy either. I thought I was old, until I spent years applying for jobs. That was very frustrating. I wanted to go back to work, but my drive fell back further and further.”

Drive and motivation

‘I completely rediscovered my drive and motivation at Ballast Nedam. Actually, I continuously add tasks to my own work week. Placing orders? Applying to a BHV course? Why not? If my colleagues in the construction industry approach me with a question, I am happy to assist. Sometimes that is difficult, because everything has to be well organised at the front of the project as well. I am certainly aware of that responsibility, because Site Manager Dave is too busy to handle my tasks. It feels good to be useful and I hope I can continue to do so until I retire. I really feel like I am the right man in the right place right now."

Social Return

Ballast Nedam is committed to Social Return: creating employment for people at a distance from the labor market. In 2020, this was achieved in no fewer than 31 projects, in which we were able to welcome new colleagues in positions such as construction site employee, gatekeeper and carpenter. We do this together with our partners Ampliar and Greenfox, enabling us to recruit and deploy new and diverse talent.

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