Entrepreneurs gathered in Scheveningen for the annual network event, the Miljoenenontbijt. The atmosphere is mixed, says reporter Maarten Veeger. “There is enthusiasm about being able to physically be together again, but there is also frustration about the government’s policy poverty.”
The high energy prices, addition, nitrogen crisis and red tape surrounding the corona checks, it is all a topic of conversation. Also the House of Representatives is debating today about the million dollar bill.
The budget is mainly a basic budget, because a caretaker cabinet is not allowed to make major new plans. A lot can change with a new government. Much therefore remains uncertain, such as the precise approach to problems in the labor market.
Need to reform
And let that be a big issue for entrepreneurs, says Ingrid Thijssen, chairman of the employers’ organization VNO-NCW. Forming is complicated, she knows. “But I appeal to all the main protagonists to really solve it now. The country is crying out for it.”
Minister Koolmees also agreed: The labor market is too jump for reforms. The advice has been given, and the plans are there, but the policy knots cannot be cut.
This concerns, among other things, the plans to close the large gap between flex workers and people with a permanent contract. There must be an ax in the permanent contract, concluded the Borstlap committee last year. But the implementation is yet to come.
Entrepreneurs feel this in their daily practice, for example because young people easily job hopping. “I believe in real contracts and employership,” says Robert Medenblik, owner of moving company Mondial Van der Velde.
People need to commit themselves to a company again, he believes. And companies have to give them a future by training. “But it’s more than just a job, it also has to do with certainties in life, like whether you can buy a house or a car.”
The other pain point: the increasing tightness in the labor market. There are now more vacancies than unemployed and many companies are diligently looking to staff. “Productivity in the Netherlands must increase,” Thijssen says.
It must be ensured that we can do the work with fewer people, otherwise our economy will suffer, says VNO. Retraining, robots, labor migration, all options should be on the table, says Thijssen. “The shortage is structural, we already knew that before corona.”
Entrepreneurs’ association ONL also points out that the Dutch economy may seem to have overcome the corona crisis, but entrepreneurs are not yet. Entrepreneurs still have to deal with limitations, damage and debts.
“Entrepreneurs are not on the menu,” says ONL leader Hans Biesheuvel about the cabinet plans. And while the corona support is being discontinued, the burden reduction for businesses is hard to find, he believes.
Not just doom and gloom
Fortunately, it is not all doom and gloom. For example, VNO-NCW, MKB-Nederland and LTO Nederland call it a good thing that more subsidies are being given for sustainable projects and that investments are being made in the energy infrastructure. There is also more money for the purchase of sustainable delivery vans.
Entrepreneurs are also happy with the 300 million euros extra for the Netherlands’ participation in two so-called Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs) in the field of microelectronics and cloud technology.
These are European partnerships that give Dutch companies access to the latest techniques in this field. Startup association The Dutch Startup Association does have doubts about the investment, because it is only relevant for a specific group of entrepreneurs.
“These subsidies are specifically intended for the chip and cloud industry. Many startups are left out,” says chairman Lucien Burm. “It raises the question of whether the money ends up in the right place and whether it sufficiently strengthens Europe’s competitive position.”