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Dutch labour market remains tight and vacancies are high –



There are currently 114 vacancies in the Dutch labour market for every 100 people without work, and the official unemployment total had fallen to 360,000 at the end of last year, according to new figures from national statistics agency CBS.

That takes the jobless rate in Q4 to 3.5%, which is down marginally on a year ago.

In total, 73% of the population aged 15-to-75 have some form of work, compared with 66% ten years ago, the CBS said. The CBS uses the 15-to-75 age group in line with definitions drawn up by the International Labour Organisation.

Some 5.5 million workers in the Netherlands currently have a permanent contract, 2.7 million are on flexible or short contracts and 1.6 million are self-employed.

According to CBS calculations, as well as 360,000 people who are officially unemployed, a further 525,000 part-timers would like to work more hours. But this is not enough to fill all the vacancies and the Netherlands will continue to rely on immigration to fill the gaps, says Jeroen Tiel, chief executive of staffing agency Randstad.

Unused labour potential is often seen as the solution “but is not enough to meet the challenges,” he told news website “They are part of the solution. We at least are trying to get more people in this group into work.”

But given the shortages of skilled labour in, for example, construction and healthcare, the Netherlands “cannot do” without immigration, he said.

“The current discussion is enormously polarised and we need to do it differently. We are having to cope with an aging population in some sectors. We don’t have enough people in the tech sector, or care services, market gardening and distribution centres.”

Earlier Peter Wennink, the departing chief executive of ASML, warned about the political climate and calls for less migration. “Be careful about what you wish for,” he told a press conference. “We will go where we can grow.”

All the parties currently discussing forming an new government have called for some sort of tougher immigration controls.

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