Discrimination of MBO trainees: minister announces measures

Education minister Ingrid van Engelshoven (D66) has called on schools, institutions and companies to end the discrimination of MBO vocational school students who apply for traineeships. Figures from Maastricht university show that 24% of MBO students with a non-western background have to apply four times before bagging a work experience place compared to 11% of their native Dutch peers. And while fewer than half the students with ethnic minority roots found a place first time, 68% of their white peers did so. Describing the situation as 'unacceptable', the minister said that companies discriminate ‘perhaps unknowingly’ while at the same time complaining about a lack of staff. She has now proposed 'get to know you' meetings between hundreds of companies and prospective trainees to alleviate the problem, and training courses for companies on how to select trainees without prejudice. A third measure is to launch a campaign to highlight the possibility to register a complaint about discrimination. On Monday king Willem-Alexander opened the new MBO school year at ROC Tilburg saying MBO students ‘fulfilled a great need’. He said the lack of traineeships, especially in the care sector, was worrying and that ‘it is essential that society embraces vocational education and help students as much as possible’.  More >

Pay rises near 3% in May

Pay rises agreed in collective bargaining with unions averaged just under 3% last month, the highest level since the financial crisis hit 10 years ago, according to employers organisation AWVN. In total, 26 pay deals (CAOs) were sealed last month, giving workers an average pay increase of 2.96%, the AWVN said. Earlier, the national statistics agency CBS said the average pay rise over the first three months of the year was 2.2%, prompting the organisation's chief economist to ask why companies were not paying more, given the shortage of staff in some sectors. The AWVN says 425 pay deals covering 3.1 million workers expire this year.   More >

Ministries spend €1.4bn on external staff

Dutch government ministries spent €1.4bn last year hiring external personnel, a rise of over 60% on 2011, the AD said on Wednesday. Six of the 12 ministries are breaking guidelines which say external hires should not account for more than 10% of personnel costs and the education and economic affairs ministries are spending 20% of their staffing budgets on outsiders. The education ministry says in its annual report the need for outsiders is 'so great that a speedy reduction towards 10% is unlikely'. In particular, student loan group DUO is heavily dependent on outside IT experts. The economic affairs ministry also blames the demand for IT staff. Some 40% of the government cash spent on outsiders goes on technical staff - a total of €530m last year.  By contrast, just €14m was spent on legal advice and €28m on accountancy services. Tilburg University labour market professor Ton Wilthagen told the AD that external staff are always more expensive and that he doubts the government is doing enough to attract talented IT experts. 'The government is not a bad employer,' he  points out. 'You get job security, lots of free days. That could be used in marketing the jobs, but does not happen.'  More >

Ministers launch new grants for training

The government is planning to scrap the tax break on the cost of work-related training courses and replace them with grants of up to €2,000 a year to allow people to further develop their career prospects. The social affairs and education ministry hope up to 200,000 people a year will take advantage of the new grant system. People will be able to use the cash to partly fund diplomas which will boost their skills or make them more employable. The current system, based on tax breaks, is rarely used by people who work on temporary or flexible contracts, or who are in professions where the jobs market is shrinking, such as sales and administration, ministers say. 'It is important that people think about the future of their jobs and that they take action,' social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees said. 'This is key, not only to the jobs market. But it is also beneficial personally to learn new skills.' The new grant system - known as as a Stap budget - was included in the coalition agreement and slated to come into effect in January 2020. However, the start date has been delayed and the system of tax breaks will remain next year, the AD said. The grants will be applied for online and the money paid directly to the training institute, to stop potential fraud.  More >

Jobs growth set to continue but may slow

The number of jobs in the Dutch economy will continue to grow in 2019 and 2020 but the increase will be slower than in previous years, the government jobs agency UWV said in its latest forecasts on Tuesday. The two year forecast of 309,000 extra jobs will take the total number of positions in the Dutch economy to 10.8 million, the agency said. In 2017 and 2018, the economy added 467,000 jobs. The workforce is not increasing by as much because the economy is growing less rapidly than in the previous four years, spokesman Rob Witjes said, adding that the unemployment rate may increase slightly next year. In addition, there are a number of uncertainties in the market, such as the trade war between the US and China, as well as Brexit, he said. The UWV also expects the number of people claiming unemployment benefit to have fallen to 234,000 by the end of next year, down 11% on the end of 2018. Most new jobs are being created in the care sector, due to increased demand for nursing and home care services as the population gets older. The retail sector and specialised business services are also continuing to grow. Some sectors, however, have declining workforces. In particular, the number of jobs in financial services will have fallen from 289,000 in 2007 to 212,000 by the end of 2020, the UWV said.  More >

Lowest incomes get more holiday pay

People on incomes from €34,000 a year will get less holiday pay this year because of changes to the tax system, the Telegraaf reported on Wednesday. The bonus is paid out at the end of this month to workers on fixed contracts. People who work for staffing agencies get a monthly payout. Minimum wage earners will have €35 more to spend on their holidays this year while people earning €34,000  - the average wage - will take a €3 cut, according to calculations by payroll company ADP. However, people earning around €72,000 will see their holiday pay reduced by €117 in this month's salary slips. Family spending institute NIBUD said in 2017 that 48% of people spent the bonus on holiday related activities while 40% put it away for a rainy day.  More >

Fewer flexbile jobs as market tightens

Employers are offering more permanent jobs in a bid to keep staff in the current tight labour market, and the number of flexible jobs has gone down for the first time in 10 years, the Financieele Dagblad said on Monday, quoting national statistics agency CBS. The number of flexible jobs in the labour market fell by 7,000 in the first three months of this year, while there were 189,000 more permanent positions, the FD said. However, people who only have a school leaving certificate are increasingly likely to have a flexible job, the figures show. The number of low-skilled positions with flexible contracts actually rose by 16,000 while people with college and university degrees benefited from the increase in permanent jobs. Just over half (51%) of people without qualifications now have a permanent position, compared with 66% of people who have a college or university degree. This week the senate will debate new legislation which aims to make it more expensive for employers to use flexible contracts. The changes will allow firms to sack staff after a string of minor misdemeanours rather than one major fail. In addition, the maximum trial period that a new employee can be required to work will go up from two to five months. Companies will also get a discount on unemployment benefit premiums if they take on permanent rather than temporary members of staff.  More >