Groningen’s Municipal Council voted to encourage earlier and easier access to the labour market for asylum seekers, after a motion by D66 was adopted by a large majority last Wednesday.
The proposal aims to facilitate the integration of refugees by accelerating their entrance into the labour market, particularly in the fields of education and healthcare.
“It is precisely in these sectors that there is a great demand for new personnel. By linking the talents of newcomers to the demand, we think in terms of opportunities and possibilities,” D66 council member Maria Martinez Doubiani said, according to OOG TV.
Despite the Council of State’s decision to allow asylum seekers to work longer than 24 weeks, Doubiani believes more can be done.
“There are more barriers to getting work. Our proposal is aimed at removing precisely these obstacles so that people can get started from day one,” says Doubiani. But concerns were raised about the meaning of the initiative for the status of asylum seekers.
“If asylum seekers can get to work quickly, what influence does this have on their asylum application?” says VVD’s Elisabeth Akkerman.
“We want people to be able to get to work quickly. But if you put asylum seekers to work, there is a greater chance that they will be allowed to stay. My party is against that.” stated PVV’s Kelly Blauw.
Groenlinks councillor Manouska Molema dismissed such queries. “The VVD asks us to be alert to whether working also influences the asylum application. We’re not going to do that. That is a task for the IND,” she said.
Issues regarding Dutch language deficits were also raised, although earlier access to work opportunities could be the exact solution for this, believes Molema.
The initiative proposal was originally submitted to the Groningen Municipality Council last year. D66 also submitted a similar proposal to the House of Representatives.
In Groningen, PVV was the only party that voted against it.