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European Job Market

Employment in Netherlands


As the 17th largest economy in the world, the Netherlands experienced an impressive job growth in the decennia after WWII. As a nation with a relatively large financial services industry, the financial crisis caused insolvency of a number of banks. Of high importance to the Dutch economy is the port of Rotterdam. It is the largest port in Europe and the key location where goods for the European markets arrive. In the port area the chemical- and petrochemical industry is well represented.


Just under 17 million people live in the Netherlands (2022). Considering the relatively small area of the Kingdom, it is a densely populated country. Most of the population is concentrated in the Western part of the Netherlands, also known as the ‘Randstad’. This area traditionally holds many jobs in the service industry. Amsterdam, a world-renowned city, has fewer than one million inhabitants.


Right after WWII the Netherlands saw an increase in immigration from former colonies, such as Indonesia. During the 1950s many Dutch people, with an agricultural background, emigrated to Australia, South Africa and Canada. The 1960s saw an increase in Industrial jobs. To meet the demand, workers were enticed to leave their home countries, such as Turkey and Morocco, to work in Dutch factories. As in many Western European countries, these workers were later given the opportunity to permanently stay and bring over their families.


Unemployment is traditionally low in the Netherlands. The unemployment figure of less than four percent (2022) rates among the lowest in the European Union. Some 80% of workers are active in the services sector, a relatively large percentage. Holland is renowned for its consensual approach to decision making. Negotiations for collective employment agreements are held with key players who are equally involved; government, unions and employers. This approach carries the Dutch title 'Polder model'.

Working in the Netherlands

EU citizens can freely reside and work in the Netherlands, however some restrictions apply to Bulgarian and Romanian nationals. Holland participates in the Blue Card program. Gradually the Blue Card becomes more and more a competitor to the Dutch Highly Skilled Migrant permit.

Immigration and Naturalisation service

Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment

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