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Recruiting Immigrant Workers: The Netherlands 2016

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The Dutch labour migration system has undergone substantive changes in recent years. To induce a transition to more high-skilled migration, a programme based on salary thresholds has grown in volume while a programme based on work permits after a labour market test has shrunk. New programmes target international graduates either of Dutch educational institutions or of selected institutions abroad. Changes to immigration procedures have shifted responsibility to migrants' employers and have greatly reduced processing times. This review first examines the composition of labour migration to the Netherlands, in the context of present and expected demand in the Dutch labour market. Following a discussion of various programmes and procedures, the review assesses how labour migration contributes to the strategic development of sectors and to employment in regions. It then explores the determinants for the retention of high-skilled migrants and for the integration of international graduates into the Dutch labour market.

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Executive summary

Based on a characterisation of labour migration to the Netherlands and of the Dutch labour migration policy, this review examines whether labour migrants match the demand in the Netherlands and explores how the Netherlands can attract and retain highly skilled migrants. Labour migration from non-EU countries to the Netherlands has been higher in recent years than prior to 2007 but remains low in comparison to other categories of migration. In 2013, it accounted for only 9% of the total permanent migration inflow of 100 000 persons. This share was higher than in Germany and France but below the average for European OECD countries. Inflows through free movement within the European Union accounted for more than 60% of permanent migrant flows to the Netherlands. Migrants from EU countries, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, are also the main source of temporary migrants, whose total level approached 200 000 in 2012.

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