Status holders find work faster, but majority still unemployed after eight years 10:00 in Binnenland According to Statistics Netherlands, the labor market is currently favorable. But experts say there is still a world to be won.

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Status holders at work as a mechanic at the NS
NOS News

Status holders are finding a job faster and faster in the Netherlands. This is evident from new figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS).

If asylum seekers receive a residence permit, they are referred to as status holders. Almost 20 percent of the asylum seekers who received a residence permit in 2019 had found paid work after two and a half years. In 2014, that share was still at 11 percent.

According to CBS chief sociologist Tanja Traag, asylum seekers have been getting through the procedures more quickly in recent years. “It is faster to get the right papers and to learn the language, so that they can get to work faster,” she says in the NOS Radio 1 Journaal. In addition, she emphasizes that a lot of workers are currently in demand.

Most status holders have flexible contracts and work in the temporary employment sector or the hospitality industry. According to the CBS, it was therefore more difficult for them to find a job during corona times, although that dip now seems to be over.

On hold

The organization Refugee Talent Hub helps status holders to find a job. According to director Wilma Roozenboom, it is still difficult for many people from that group to find work. The same CBS figures show that 45 percent of the status holders who received a residence permit in 2014 had a job last year. Not more than half.

“It is nice that the group of status holders with a job is growing, but there is a world to win,” says Roozenboom. Although she acknowledges that the procedure that asylum seekers have to go through when applying for a residence permit has improved, she believes that it is still slow.

During the procedure, they are not allowed to work at all and then only a limited number of weeks per year. “People remain inactive for years, are on hold. If we organize that differently, I think the numbers will quickly increase.”

Afghans are doing well

Asylum seekers from Afghanistan are the fastest to find a job. According to Refugee Talent Hub, this is because they often already have a network here. “A large group of Afghans came to the Netherlands in the 1980s,” says Roozenboom. “That group knows how things work and may already know some employers.”

According to Statistics Netherlands, Eritreans are also doing relatively well. 60 percent of asylum seekers from the East African country have found work after 7.5 years; on average that is 45 percent.

The mechanic must be able to tinker

Roozenboom recently sat around the table with Minister Van Gennip of Social Affairs and Employment. She calls on the government to do something about the slow asylum procedure. In addition, she touches on the image of jobseekers with status holders: “Don’t talk about them as needy people on benefits, but as talented professionals who happened to be born somewhere else.”

According to Roozenboom, employers should also look at status holders differently, for example by not sticking to strict requirements in the field of command of the Dutch language. “It is important for a mechanic that he can tinker well, if he speaks a little less Dutch, that may also be sufficient.”

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