Employers flock to employ refugees following 24 weeks ruling

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Companies have filed over 1,500 requests for work permits for refugees this year  following a ruling last year which said they can work more than 24 weeks, state jobs agency UWV has said in its annual report.

Under the old rules, asylum seekers who have not been given residency permits are not allowed to work more than 24 weeks a year so they do not get the idea that their request for refugee status will be honoured.

But in April last year, the court decided that the current situation in the Netherlands is at odds with European rules which say asylum seekers should have access to the jobs market so that they become self-sufficient and are better integrated into society.

“If you extrapolate the number of requests made in the first months of this year the total number in 2024 will go up to 7,000,” UWV chairman Maarten Camps told Nu.nl. Just 2,000 permits were requested in the whole of last year.

“Many of these people are highly skilled and it is important to use these skills,” he said. Most asylum seekers end up in relatively low-skilled jobs in restaurants, or cleaning via jobs agencies.

“It’s important to find the right match for people who are already here and who will be staying here. That will also limit the number of labour migrants,” Camps said.

The Netherlands is also increasingly dependent on highly skilled knowledge workers from outside the EU. In 2022 26,000 work permits were issued for workers outside the EU. That is over twice the number compared with six years ago.

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