Koolmees sees urgency in tackling the labor market, but no opportunity for action

The advice is there, just like the policy plans, says Koolmees (Social Affairs and Employment) in response to the bill of millions presented today against RTL Z. But there is very little that can be done now, because the current cabinet is in ‘reserve time’.

The national budget for 2022 is only a basic budget. The outgoing cabinet is not allowed to make major new plans. “Most of the figures presented today can be filled in with pencil,” political reporter Frits Wester said earlier.

Some problems cannot wait, such as investments in the climate and the housing market. But many other things are yet to come. That is why there is little to read in the memorandum about the real future of the labor market.

“The Netherlands has come out of the corona crisis relatively well and the unemployment is low“, says Koolmees. But there are also underlying problems that urgently need to be tackled. And, according to him, they can’t wait. “There is no time to lose.”

Urgent matters

Koolmees touches on the flexibility of the labor market. The government believes that the difference between people with a permanent contract and flexible work must be reduced to stop inequality and a proliferation of self-employed workers and payrollers.

The labor market must therefore be radically overhauled, the Borstlap committee concluded last year, which is why, among other things, an ax can be added to the permanent contract.

Meanwhile, many employers are eagerly looking for staff. There are now more vacancies than unemployed. “The market has never been so tight,” says economist Jacob Schoenmaker. Many companies pull out all the stops to recruit people.

But: no wage increase yet

Retraining, labor participation or migration. Finding a solution is not easy and will have to be looked at per sector, experts say.

Remarkably enough, wages are not yet reacting too strongly to this development. We seem to have to wait a little longer wage increases. “It is due to the corona crisis,” says Schoenmaker. There is trepidation about raising it, but that is slowly ebbing away, says the economist.

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