Dutch government to tackle shortage of workers with national plan
The Cabinet will come up with a course of action to combat the shortage of workers personnel, including unspecified "further measures.” But most plans will only take effect in the future, with new policies enacted by the government expected to remain in place for a longer period of time. The shortage on the labor market will still be felt for quite some time as a result.
On Friday, Minister of Social Affairs Karien van Gennip and colleagues wrote an extensive letter to the Tweede Kamer about the shortage of workers. This shortage is acutely visible in everyday life, such as in public transport and at Schiphol Airport. The government must also act, in addition to the important role employers play, the minister acknowledged.
The government wants to increase the supply of work and reduce the demand for it. The gap between supply and demand must also be narrowed. That is why the government wants to invest in innovations, better tailor training to the types of workers that are in high demand, and ensure that more people can find work.
Less conventional measures will also be taken. For example, the government wants to make it more attractive for people to continue working after their retirement age. People who switch to sectors with large shortages must be supported. Certain quality and training requirements may need to be adjusted. Finally, the government is investigating a bonus for workers who transition from part-time to full-time, where employees would receive a bonus when they decide to work more hours.
Ironically, the success of the interventions often depends on whether there are enough available workers. More parents can enter the workforce, for example, if childcare providers are fully staffed and more widely available. Enough IT specialists are needed to support innovation, and the new policy will only work if there are enough people working at the organizations implementing the suggested subsidies and bonuses.
In the short term, the government’s efforts will not likely have much effect, the Cabinet admitted. "Action by the government only becomes noticeable after a delay," said Van Gennip. Moreover, the measures must not only provide an answer to the urgent problem facing the Netherlands, but must also be useful at a later date.
According to employers' organizations MKB Nederland and VNO-NCW, "more is really needed to accelerate a breakthrough in solving the staff shortage." The organizations advocate more "unconventional measures by both employers and governments."
The FNV union is happy with the measures, but does have points where it took issue with the Cabinet. The union wants the government to do more to resolve the overuse of flexible contracts. "The permanent contract must become the norm again." The Cabinet should also raise the minimum wage to 14 euros per hour, so that work becomes better paid and more attractive.
Reporting by ANP