Labor market concerns as number of vocational students continue to fall
With almost all sectors in the Dutch labor market facing severe staff shortages, experts are looking at the declining number of secondary vocational students with great concern. This could exacerbate the lack of skilled workers in the Netherlands and complicate the Cabinet’s plans, education groups said to the Telegraaf.
The Ministry of Education expects the number of students in secondary vocational education (MBO) to decrease by about 40,000 in the next five years. “That has to do with the expected shrinkage in that age group in the coming years, and the trend that more and more young people are going to higher education,” a spokesperson said to the newspaper.
That could lead to serious problems in the already tight labor market, the MBO Raad, the council for secondary vocational education, said to the newspaper. In the first quarter of this year, the Dutch labor market reached a “very tight” status for the first time since the benefits agency UWV started keeping track of the tension in the labor market. There are now more vacancies than job seekers who can fill them, the UWV said last week.
Compared to the first quarter of 2021, the number of vacancies increased by 80 percent, and the number of unemployment benefits decreased by 41 percent. Only four of the Netherlands' 92 professional groups are not facing significant staff shortages.
The declining number of MBO students could also hinder the Cabinet’s plans, the MBO Raad said to the Telegraaf. “Take childcare, which according to the coalition agreement, should become free and for which many MBO professionals are needed. If fewer young people opt for these courses, we cannot contribute to this ambition,” chairman Adnan Tekin said.