Around 11 percent of refugees who were granted asylum in 2014 were able to find work within two and a half years, according to a recent analysis by the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics.
Social affairs and employment minister Wouter Koolmees says that finding work is vital for asylum seekers to be able to successfully integrate into Dutch society. But for 89 percent of refugees, that remains difficult.
Evert Sulman, project leader at Groningen Verwelkomt (Welcome to Groningen), told RTV Noord that having access to a professional and personal network is the missing link. “In the Netherlands, nearly three-fourths of all jobs are found through the grapevine, so that should also be the case for refugees.”
That is why Groningen Verwelkomt is planning to organise an event to bring refugees seeking work together with local employers. Sulman says that companies are interested in this form of networking: “There are industries like IT and catering that are in need of more workers, and companies that have a more social mission are eager to give residence permit holders a chance.”
Niels Kemper from Humanitas Groningen says that language often stands in the way. “The first obstacle for refugees is that they don’t speak Dutch.” Syrian refugees in particular who come to the Netherlands are well educated and speak English quite well, but it is difficult for them to get a job at a comparable professional level here. “Dutch companies are apparently not very eager to work with people who cannot speak Dutch.” Kemper says that the work culture also plays a role: although many people are interested in starting their own business, but the bureaucratic and administrative systems are rather different.