‘Workforce shortfall will be 400,000’

Urgent action is needed to get 400,000 people into work by 2016, according to a government working party set up to look at ways of increasing the size of the workforce.

If moves are not made there will be a structural shortfall of 700,000 workers by 2040, the commission, led by TNT CEO Peter Bakker says.
The commission was set up last year after cabinet efforts to reform redundancy law were abandoned following Labour party opposition and was charged with finding ways to get 100,000 people into work in the short term. Currently 73% of the Dutch working population have a job. The government wants to increase it to 80% by 2016.
Many of the 43 proposals had already leaked out and there are few surprises in the final document.
In the short term, the committee says steps are needed to encourage part-timers to work longer, that more should be done to stop early retirement and that schools and colleges should better reflect the needs of the labour market.
In the longer term, the role of the courts in approving redundancy requests should end, unemployment benefit should be slashed and employers given greater responsibility for finding staff a new job, the commission said. Because the demand for workers will be so great, no-one need be without a job, the commission reasons.
At the same time, the state pension age should be gradually raised to 67, the commission says. The state pension should also be paid from tax rather than premiums.
‘This plan of attack is not a blueprint but it does show the direction we should move in,’ the committee said in a statement.
In an initial reaction, the FNV trade union federation said the proposals contained a number of unfair elements. ‘Workers in a weak position will lose rights and security in order to help better-off workers,’ the union said in a statement. The CNV federation said it was sceptical about the recommendations.
Labour MP Hans Spekman said the short term measures were ‘loud and clear’, while the long-term proposals contained some ‘interesting’ ideas.

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