Labour migrants’ children in NL often miss stability and support


Almost 50,000 children whose parents have come to the Netherlands from eastern and central European countries to work are in a vulnerable position, according to researchers at Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

The findings will give added impetus to efforts to improve the working and living conditions of European nationals who come to the Netherlands to do seasonal or other low-skilled jobs, social affairs minister Karien van Gennip told MPs in a briefing.

“Every child should be able to go to school, to eat, make friends and grow up safely,” she said. “This research shows that that is often not the case for the children of labour migrants, and this is extremely worrying.”

The research suggests that the children of labour migrants often miss stability and are more likely to end up with educational and health problems than the children of other newcomers or those in a similar socio-economic position. They are also over-represented in lower secondary school streams and are more likely to drop out.

NL must treat EU workers well or face the consequences

In particular, older children can find it difficult to adjust, and even children who were born in the Netherlands can face difficulties because their parents don’t speak the language or are working on short-term contracts with poor future perspectives, the researchers said.  

The research team makes 11 key recommendations, top of which is recognition of the unique position facing European labour migrants. 

“They come here to work but they don’t have the support that other vulnerable newcomers have, such as integration requirements, which help them to find their feet in society,” the briefing said. More should also be done to encourage them to speak Dutch. 

In addition, Van Gennip told MPs that the researchers are right in calling for a change in thinking about how “temporary” migrant workers’ stay in the Netherlands will be. “The systems, policy and legislation are too often based on the principle of a temporary stay,” she said. 

“The cabinet considers it important that when policy is being made to cover labour migration, more attention should be paid to the diversity within the broad group of EU immigrants… and language skills and integration should be the focus of attention for those who are here for a longer period.”  

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