The Netherlands will need to bring more foreign workers into the country to cope with having an aging population, according to the government’s independent advisory body on migration, the Adviesraad Migratie.
Some three million extra immigrants would be needed to plug the workforce gaps and pay taxes by 2040, but given that is not a realistic option, people already here will have to work more hours or retire later instead, the council said in a new report.
As the size of the workforce compared with the number of pensioners goes down, fewer people will be paying for collective provisions such as pensions and healthcare. And that, the council says, means either bringing in more immigrants or working harder as a nation.
It calculates that bringing in an extra 50,000 workers a year would have the same impact as everyone with a job working an extra ten minutes a week, or raising the state pension age by 3.5 months.
But by 2040, when the greying population is set to reach a peak, there may then be more people than jobs and that will bring its own problems, council chairwoman Monique Kremer told NOS news.
The council also said that highly skilled migrants with salaries of over €40,000 contribute most to the Netherlands’ prosperity as do those with special skills – such as nursing or technology.
The researchers point, for example, to chip machinery maker ASML, which brings foreign IT experts to the Netherlands and has to then employ local administrative workers to support them.
However, the council also warns that the shortage of workers in some sectors may also be down to poor pay and working conditions, and that will not be solved by bringing in workers from elsewhere.
Expert Paul de Beer told the Volkskrant that some economic activities are only profitable because they rely on cheap, imported labour. “In such cases, labour migration is not only a reaction to the demand for workers,” he said. “The reverse is also true. Certain economic activities can grow because of the availability of cheap foreign workers.”
The four parties currently in talks on forming a new coalition – PVV, VVD, NSC and BBB – want to reduce the number of foreigners coming to the Netherlands to work.
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