WHAT DOES THE ONA EXAM ENTAIL?
Preparation, portfolio and final interview
The aim of the Orientation on the Dutch Labour Market (Oriëntatie op de Nederlandse Arbeidsmarkt, ONA) exam is that you get insight into how you can find work that suits you in the Netherlands, and how you can keep this work in the long term.
The entire ONA process consists of three components: the preparatory phase, the portfolio and a 64-hour course or a final interview with DUO. Below we explain what you can expect for each part. If you have little experience with the Dutch labour market, it may take a lot of time to learn about it. Keep in mind, therefore, that your entire ONA process may take several months.
Preparatory phase: very important
The Dutch government wants people who are new in the Netherlands to start working quickly and to keep their jobs for a long time. This is why ONA has been part of the integration exam since 2015. The government sees ONA as a means by which newcomers get access to work faster and more easily. As a consequence, the assessment of ONA examinations takes a strict look at how actively and seriously the candidate has studied the job market and job opportunities.
Therefore, we would like to emphasize that the preparatory phase is very important for ONA. At this stage, you are looking for answers to questions like ‘Who am I?’, ‘What can I do?’ and ‘How do I reach my goal (with respect to work)?’. In this period, you will also collect evidence documents such as diplomas, a diploma evaluation, a cover letter and a resume.
Following an ONA-course
Following a course is a good way to prepare for the ONA exam. In the course, you, your teacher and other students will think about and talk about your desired profession and the opportunities on the Dutch labour market. There is another important advantage of following an ONA course: if you have followed at least a 64-hour course, you do not have to do a final interview with DUO. It is then slightly easier to pass the ONA exam.
To prove that you have actively and seriously studied the labour market and your work opportunities, you must create a portfolio for the ONA exam. This portfolio consists of 8 results cards and evidence that shows what you have done as preparation. The results cards are forms on which you describe what you have found about your desired occupation, the Dutch labour market and your abilities.
The basis of the portfolio: your desired occupation
The question that forms the basis for your ONA portfolio is: ‘What is your desired occupation?’. This seems like an easy question, but it is important to think carefully about this. On page 4 of the guide to Orientation on the Dutch Labour Market (Oriëntatie op de Nederlandse Arbeidsmarkt) there is an explanation of how to choose your desired occupation. Sometimes you will find out that there are no vacancies for your desired occupation, or that you must first follow a course in order to do this job. In that case, it is sometimes better to choose another desired career and to start over.
Sequence of results cards
When you are working on your orientation, use the results chart to find out what work you want and can do, and how to achieve it. The result cards are numbered from 1 to 8. This does not mean that you have to read the cards in that order. Sometimes it may even work better to choose a different order. Ad Bakker suggests the following order in his book Werken in Nederland:
- Results card 1: Profession orientation
- Results card 6: Building a network
- Results card 2: Realistic view of the profession
- Results card 3: Know your characteristics
- Results card 5: Professional competences
- Results card 4: Career opportunities
- Results card 7: Finding work
- Results card 8: Work culture
Explanation and glossary
To help you fill in the results cards correctly, an explanation and a glossary are available. The explanation explains for each results card how to fill it in. The glossary provides the meaning of words you may not know. You can download the explanation and the glossary on the website Inburgeren.nl.
Fill in and send
When you are sure that you can answer all questions from the results cards, you can complete the cards. Preferably do this digitally, through the Mijn Inburgering website. On this website, you can only send the results cards only if all questions have been answered. The chance is then greater that your portfolio will be approved. If you submit the results cards online, you must also send the evidence digitally. Make sure that you have a digital version of all your evidence.
Would you rather send your portfolio by post? You can. Download the results cards via the Inburgeren.nl website under the heading ‘Portfolio per post versturen’.
Tip: Review the ‘Checklist for ONA Portfolio’ before sending your portfolio. And make copies of your results cards and evidence.
Paying for the exam
The ONA exam costs € 40.00. If you send your portfolio digitally via the Mijn Inburgering website, you must pay the exam fee via iDeal. If you send your portfolio by mail, you will be sent a form that states how you can pay. DUO reviews your portfolio after the payment has been successful.
Interview with DUO: only if you did not complete a 64-hour course
If you have followed or will follow at least a 64-hour ONA course, you only need to send in your portfolio to take ONA exams. Have you not done a course? Then you must do a final interview with DUO. During this interview, two people from DUO ask you about the results cards you have filled in. You cannot study for this interview, but you can prepare yourself by carefully reading your results cards and evidence documents before going to the interview. Then you can better explain why you made certain choices.
You will not be judged on your language level
During the final interview, you may only speak Dutch. But it is not a problem if you make language mistakes! DUO is no considering your Dutch. You do not have to use the words from the glossary (but you may).
If you do not (immediately) pass the ONA exam
Your portfolio may not be approved immediately. Then you need to improve and resubmit the portfolio. If you only need to update the portfolio, you do not have to pay a new exam fee.
It is not always clear why DUO does not approve a portfolio. If you read through the ‘Checklist for ONA Portfolio’ before submitting your portfolio, it is more likely to be approved. The chance is also greater that DUO will approve your portfolio if you send it digitally, via the Mijn Inburgering website.
It is also possible that you do not pass the DUO final interview. In that case, you will need to submit your portfolio again and re-do the final interview. You will then have to pay the examination fee again.
At the top of this page we told you that the preparatory phase is very important when you are going to do the Orientation on the Dutch Labour Market (Oriëntatie op de Nederlandse Arbeidsmarkt, ONA) exam. We are happy to help you on your way. On the ‘Approach to ONA Preparation’ page, you can read all about guidance for your ONA process, the steps you must take and the book Werken in Nederland, specially written for those who are taking the ONA exam.