In recent weeks, various committees and experts have come forward with their own solutions to the Netherlands’ national labour shortage, such as encouraging employees in certain sectors to work longer hours and asking those who have already retired to return to work

Teachers and doctors might have to work more hours

The country continues to face a severe shortage of workers across a number of key sectors as unemployment continues to fall, with recent figures from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) revealing that there were 133 job vacancies for every 100 people without work. Experts are looking for new ways to lessen the impact of this growing problem. 

Recently, the Social and Economic Council (SER) – a national body made up of Dutch employers, employees, and experts – advised the Dutch government to encourage those working in healthcare, defence, and education to work more hours on a short-term basis. In order to make this worthwhile for teachers, doctors and military staff, the government should also lower income tax.

“If we want to keep the public facilities up to standard, we will all have to work more together,” economist Bas ter Weel told NOS. “It is always up to people to decide how much they work, but we know that by encouraging and stimulating people, they are prepared to work more.”

Pensioners in the Netherlands could be encouraged to return to work

Another solution put forward by members of the SER, as well as Professor Kène Henkens, is to encourage those who are about to retire to continue to work, and those who have already retired to return to work on a part-time basis. Ter Weel points out that, as the Netherlands faces an ageing population, “this group of vital elderly people will increase sharply in the coming years.”

“The state pension age has already been raised, of course, but what requires more attention is the combination of pension and work,” Henkens, a professor of Pension Sociology at the medical centre in Groningen and the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, explains. “Continuing to do something in the labour market at a higher age is certainly part of the solution to the shortage.”

Henkens says the responsibility for this lies with companies in the Netherlands, who are often hesitant to hire older workers. “If [employers] invite employees on the threshold of retirement for a conversation about continuing to work longer, I think that substantial numbers can be encouraged to do so,” she told NOS.

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