Syrian refugees boost welfare claims as diplomas go unrecognised

Photo: UWV
Photo: UWV

The number of people claiming welfare benefits rose by 11,000 to 459,000 over the first three months of this year, the national statistics office CBS said on Tuesday.

The total number of claims has been boosted by the arrival of Syrian refugees, who accounted for 10,000 of the 15,000 increase recorded in 2015 as a whole, the CBS said. The increase in the pension age has also extended the length of time people are claiming bijstand, the agency said.

Some 75% of the Syrian refugees who have been given residency permits over the past three years are claiming welfare benefits because they have not yet found work, the CBS said.

BNR radio reported on Tuesday that Dutch employers and educational institutes are often reluctant to recognise Syrian diplomas.

In 2015, almost 600 Syrian refugees asked to have their diplomas officially recognised.

‘I know from my own research that most refugees need around five years before they are ready to enter the labour market,’ Linda Bakker of advisory group Significant told the broadcaster. ‘There are a lot of employers who prefer a Dutch diploma rather than a foreign one.’

Students who wish to improve their standards often find they have to take an entire degree course again, rather than focus on the aspects which need improvement, Bakker said.

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