The Netherlands, also known as Holland, is home to a highly skilled and flexible workforce, and was ranked in 2018 as the world’s best for growing new talent. The opportunity to tap into a multilingual talent pool, where 90% of the Dutch population is fluent in English, and its international orientation, with over a million foreign workers, makes it an attractive country to invest in. This article discusses the Dutch labour market and describes some of the issues to bear in mind when considering growing your business there.
The market at a glance
Size of workforce
Those who work for pay or profit for at least one hour a week, or who have a job but are temporarily not at work due to illness, leave or industrial action
The ratio of the employed to the working age
% of population (25-44 yrs old) with tertiary graduation rates
Cost of labour
English proficiency index (world)
The world's largest ranking of countries and regions by English skills
English proficiency index (Europe)
Europe's largest ranking of countries and regions by English skills
Finding the right talent
There’s a wide range of Dutch companies with an international presence, which makes it easier to find and attract English-speaking talent. It’s common to use recruitment agencies (uitzendbureaus) to find talent, and Randstad is one of the largest local ones, along with other international agencies like Adecco and Manpower. It’s also common to rely on your professional network to find a job, with those living in Amsterdam having the second-most LinkedIn connections per person. The public employment service, UWV Werkbedrijf, also supports jobseekers with finding employment.
Things to keep in mind
There are a few insights to keep in mind when looking to expand into The Netherlands.
It’s worth noting the ‘30% ruling’, which is a tax exemption for highly skilled migrants. Under certain criteria, workers coming from abroad may be eligible to a 30% tax-free salary allowance, to compensate for the expenses made by the worker for being away from their home country.
Work is very structured in Dutch culture, and common working hours are between 9am and 5pm, with employees rarely expected to work overtime. Decision-making processes in the workplace are very consensus-driven, which can sometimes translate into long, protracted processes in order to include all voices.
It’s not uncommon for prospective employees to reach out directly to a company, even if there are no current jobs posted by the employer. These unsolicited applications are welcomed by Dutch companies and are a unique approach to source and attract labour.