The Dutch employment market - Part 1

Despite the possible language barrier, the Dutch employment market offers foreigners plenty of career opportunities.


There is a growing demand for professionals and starting graduates in a limited number of industries and functional areas, such as: health care, bilingual secretaries, tax professionals, interim managers, education, and non-industrial positions.

Furthermore, the demand for experienced marketing and sales professionals, as well as business consultants is rising slowly. The following sectors are still struggling and not hiring many new employees: banking, real estate, the hospitality sector, the industrial and financial professions sector, and the chemical sector.


Because the Dutch economy is very internationally oriented, the ability to speak English - fluently - is an important requirement when looking for a job in the Netherlands. However, this is primarily the case for commercial companies and less so for certain sectors, such as the health sector, NGOs and governmental organisations.

It is still pretty common for foreigners to live and work in the Netherlands for years without having to learn the language, however, we cannot emphasise enough the importance of learning Dutch; this will not only be beneficial within the work place but also during your day-to-day endeavours in the Netherlands.

When looking for employment in the Netherlands whereby you can work in your native language, you can either register with various specialised employment agencies or you can apply directly with companies where the business language is your native language.

The job market for foreign staff encompasses a wide spectrum of professions including, but not limited to: administration, secretarial, IT, finance, marketing, support staff, sales, logistics, middle and senior management etc.

After the UK, Germany and France, most "multilingual" jobs are to be found in international call and shared service centres located in the Netherlands. There are over 150 multilingual call and shared service centres in the country, most of which are located in the Randstad region (the triangle between, and including, Utrecht, Rotterdam, The Hague, and Amsterdam).

However, you will find more and more pan-European centres in Maastricht, Arnhem and other cities, particularly near the border. Within these organisations, English is usually the business language.

Most Dutch people speak more than one foreign language to some extent (usually the Dutch rate their own language skills a lot higher than they actually should!), thus the international centres and companies have a preference for native speakers. (Protection Labor Market on The Dutch employment market - Part 2).

Women in the workforce

As yet, most women are in part-time positions, with only 19 percent of employed mothers working over 35 hours a week and overall around three-quarters of the women of working age work part-time. Less than 10 percent of the women in the Netherlands work full-time - as a consequence of which they are neither in the businesses’ top echelons nor among the top earners.

Notably, women are far better represented in the non-profit sector than they are in the business sector, which has been to their advantage, as the number of jobs available in health care, education and the public sector has increased, and these sectors are likely to keep growing over the years to come.

This is the first part of the "The Dutch Employment Market" article written by Stephanie Dijkstra, editor-in-chief of The XPat Journal. Have a look at the current issue or subscribe here.

Next in the Series
 The Dutch Employment Market - Part 2: Dutch employment law, Foreign temps, Protection labour market, Salaries, Citizen service number

Stephanie Dijkstra


Stephanie Dijkstra

Stephanie Dijkstra is a Third Culture Kid in every possible way. Raised in four countries by Dutch/American parents, both of whom also grew up in several countries, the world is...

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