Netherlands: Drop in immigrant unemployment

Non-Western immigrants are somewhat closing the gap on the job market. In the third quarter of last year, Turks and Moroccans were twice as more likely to be unemployed as ethnic Dutch. The year beforehand, unemployment for non-Western immigrants in July, August and September was three times as high.

This according to new data presented by Piet Hein Donner Minister of Social Affairs to parliament during a debate about discrimination in the job market. The average unemployment by non-Westerners was 8.7% in the 3rd quarter of 2007, compared to 3.7% by ethnic Dutch. In 2006, 14.2% of non-Western immigrants were unemployed, and 4.3% of ethnic Dutch.

The FNV trade union federation wants speedy cabinet action explaining the unemployment numbers of non-Western immigrants and getting more insight into the issue of discrimination in the job market.

According to a report titled 'Discrimination monitor of non-Western immigrants in the job market 2007 ('Discriminatiemonitor van niet-westerse allochtonen op de arbeidsmarkt 2007'), the difference between employment figures of non-Western immigrant and ethnic Dutch is partially explained by education, age, job exerience and gender in combination with the age of the youngest child.

For all groups there's a big 'unaccounted reminder'. For non-Western immigrants there's an unaccounted reminder of 44%. The researchers think discrimination plays a role in that.

The report says that immigrants usually feel discriminated when looking for a job, but not once they have found one. 60% of Moroccans felt they were discriminated when rejected for a job, 49% of Turks and 17% of Surinamese and Antillians.

Immigrants have the impression that they are often rejected for functions requiring contact with clients, especially for women wearing a headscarf.

Many immigrants feel they are constantly expected to prove themselves at work: to show they're trustworthy, come on time, make no language mistakes, don't steal, are up for the job etc. The continuing negative imaging of immigrant group is projected onto the individual job-applicant or employee.

Anti-discrimination bureaus receive about 400 complaints of discrimination annually, with 81% being on the grounds of race, and 17% on the grounds of religion. That is suspected to be the tip of the iceberg.

The feeling of being treated unequally due to wearing a headscarf is often a reason to lodge a complaint. Often there are applicants for positions or training of a public function or client contact. Complaints are most often lodged by Moroccans (31%), followed by Turks (14%) and Surinamese (19%).

The FNV asks minister Donner to translate the conclusions of the report into concrete policy measure with clear and measurable objectives.

Sources: Trouw, HR Praktijk, Report homepage, SCP (Dutch)

See also: Flanders: Moroccan and Turkish youth unemployment decreasing


Anonymous said...

"...Many immigrants feel they are constantly expected to prove themselves at work: to show they're trustworthy, come on time, make no language mistakes, don't steal, are up for the job etc..."

Wow, what a crazy set of expectations for a job!

Come on time? Don't steal and be trustworthy?

This is just isane! Unreal expectations.

Esther said...

Hi Anonymous,

I recently read an article where a German woman of Turkish origin was telling how she is never accepted, and she mentioned exactly this point. That everything she wrote or said was scrutinized to see if she made a language error, etc. Yes, every worker is expected to come on time, not to steal, etc, but if everytime you come 5 minutes late everybody nods and mumbles to each other that 'well, what did you expect?' it could be stressful.

Anonymous said...

Esther, exactly right.

Additional problem with the report is that this has happened before, the previous time unemployment was historically low in the Netherlands (the first years of this decade, if I remember well). When unemployment went up again in 2003/4, unemployment among "immigrants" (which in the Netherlands includes 2nd and often even 3rd generation) went up faster than that among "natives". I doubt whether this time it has anything to do with education, etc.; in a stretched labour market, employers who are usually hesitant to hire "immigrants" have little choice but to do so. They'll be the first back on the streets when the economy takes a turn for the worse, though.

Anonymous said...

"...but if everytime you come 5 minutes late everybody nods and mumbles to each other that 'well, what did you expect?' it could be stressful...."

This is easy, don't come 5 minutes late. Life is stressful for everyone! I mean, are these people for real?

If you are not bending over backwards for them, then you must be making their working situations extra stressful? If you expect them to do their jobs correctly, then you are stressing them out?

Quit making excuses. If they can't take the heat, tell them to go back to whatever hell-hole they came from.

Anonymous said...

Not so sure whether these are excuses, anonymous. I personally know several highly educated and skilled immigrants arriving in the Netherlands who were told to go back to the 3rd year of university (thereby practically wiping 5 years off their c.v.); they subsequently decided to let the Dutch go toss themselves, and moved to the UK, where they found employment at their own level almost immediately, and are highly appreciated by colleagues and employers. I know these are different cases than what is addressed in the article here, but at least it suggests there is something amiss with the attitudes of "indigenous" Dutch to "newcomers" in employment environments.

Every employer is expected to do their job well or suffer consequences, of course; and having to prove yourself more than "indigenous" colleagues because your qualifications and background are perhaps less recognisable to (narrow minded) "natives" is what one can expect and will have to live with – but having someone look over your shoulder every second because they assume you will do something wrong, just because you are "a foreigner" is not a normal labour environment.

And as for going "back to whatever hell-hole they came from": as I wrote before, many of these "foreigners" in the Netherlands are 2nd or 3rd generation "immigrants".

Anonymous said...

I meant "Every employee" at the start of the 2nd paragraph.