Thursday 08 December 2022

Public sector workers should work longer hours: SER

Photo: Nasa

Teachers, care workers and defense staff must be motivated to work longer hours in the short term to avoid staff shortages in future, the social economic council SER has said.

The government advisory body’s report comes just weeks ahead of a government initiative to tackle staff shortages in the public sector.

Action needs to be taken now if the current level of public services is to be maintained, SER said.

The lack of teachers, for example, will lead to a lower level of education while big ambitions regarding climate and the construction of new housing will run into trouble because of a lack of workers.

It is up to the government to make sure longer hours are worth people’s while by lowering taxes,  providing more flexible childcare and lightening the administrative burden which drives many out of the public sector, SER economist Bas ter Weel told broadcaster NOS.

‘It is, of course, up to people themselves to decide how many hours they want to work but we know that by offering certain incentives people will want to increase their hours,’ he said.

To up productivity, the council said people with jobs should work more hours while more needs to be done to get job seekers and the unemployed people into work.

Care workers and teachers who often work part time but who would like to work more hours are often discouraged because they think employers are not open to discussing the subject, Ter Weel said.

Flexible childcare

SER warned that flexible childcare must be provided if the scheme is to work. However, the sector is struggling with staff shortages itself, with 50,000 vacancies to be filled in the next ten years.

Pensioners too, should be appealed to to take up the slack in many sectors. ‘The number of vibrant elderly will grow in the next few years’, the report said.

The report said little about assigning a role to migrant workers from outside the EU to increase productivity. Migrants can be part of the solution, SER writes, but more research needs to be done to find out which sectors would benefit. The council does say refugees with residence permits should be helped to get a job more quickly.

The council will publish a more detailed version of its recommendations in the autumn.

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