A Million foreign workers in the Netherlands and 3 things you need to know about it

We’re almost reaching the number of a million foreign workers in the Netherlands so it’s about high-time that we talk about this topic.

 Foreign workers are desperately needed to fill a gap in the labour market that the Dutch cannot or will not do. If that number were to fall below 50,000 several ‘experts‘ say “things would get very tight” for the Dutch economy. What’s going on here with all these foreign workers in the Netherlands?

Approximately 750,000 workers from southern, eastern and central Europe are a part of the Dutch workforce today. ABU has calculated that foreign employees contribute 11 billion euros to the Dutch national income each year. How many foreign workers live in the Netherlands? It’s hard to say because many of them work a short time before moving to neighbouring EU countries, but at this pace the magical one million number won’t be far away. Let’s talk about all these foreign workers in the Netherlands, since you’re probably one of them (welcome here btw! Help yourself to a slice of Gouda)

1. Foreign workers needed for jobs the Dutch won’t do

Despite what you might have heard, foreign workers are not stealing jobs from the Dutchies. The Dutch don’t work (or don’t want to) in the same fields as foreign workers (fields as in farms). Agriculture is such a driving force of the Dutch economy and farms operate largely thanks to foreign elbow grease. Recently members of the VVD have said that a minimum of 50,000 foreign workers is the minimum amount needed to maintain progress in areas largely worked by European labour migrants.

Construction urgently needs foreign workers to increase workflow. According to Bloomberg, a construction project for 600 new homes shut down for eight months due to lack of workers and material. The construction project is of dire importance to offset Amsterdam’s housing shortage.

foreign workers, labour migrants, construction
Construction is a Dutch industry that is in dire need of ready, willing and able workers. We couldn’t even get a pic of Dutch construction workers so we settled for this one of the good ol’ US of A

Companies and municipalities agree that migrant workers are an indispensable commodity. So, what is being done to attract more foreign workers to the Netherlands? Where are the gaps in the Dutch labour market? Well, teaching and construction to name a couple. Many people arrive in the Netherlands for work and the numbers are not slowing down any time soon.

They need those foreign workers too to build all these new Amsterdam buildings:

2. Attracting foreign workers to work in the Netherlands

The Netherlands must do more to attract Eastern European workers who also increasingly gravitate towards countries like Denmark or Germany for gainful employment. Only a handful of years ago labour migrants made up only tens of thousands of the Dutch workforce, that number has grown exponentially each year.

In 2012 an information center was founded, the “flexible housing for migrant workers“. Even this website claims “the labour market is becoming more flexible, society is doing so in many other ways, the world is becoming a global village – the housing market is not keeping up with these developments”.

How will the Netherlands continue to attract foreign workers? By using social media and video campaigns like this one. And we aren’t talking about those booking.com IT-specialists this time (Hi there! How’s the Gouda at Booking?)

What did you think of this vid? They’ve got Polish video’s coming too.

3. Foreign workers are living in poor conditions in the Netherlands at times

The issues facing foreign workers are also political issues. The intake of foreign workers, from EU member nations, remains a mandatory requirement. The European Union is watching the way foreign workers are treated here. And of course, under certain parts of society there’s certain kind of sentiment aimed against the influx of foreign workers in the Netherlands.

Many Polish workers arrive in the Netherlands and work the farms out west, giving rise to places like the Polish hotel, which have provided accommodation to foreign workers in the Netherlands for years. The numbers are slowing due to the mistreatment of foreign workers, mostly because there are fewer places to houses them. The Netherlands is under pressure to provide proper housing for foreign workers in the Netherlands or risk becoming an unattractive country in the international job market.  But yeah, a controversial issue altogether since the Netherlands is already coping with a housing crisis.

What are your thoughts on the huge number of foreign workers in the Netherlands? Are you one of them?

Jesse Rintoul
Jesse Rintoulhttps://textmood.co/
I'm a 24-year-old writer living in Amsterdam, pursuing videography and media. The coffee I am drinking in my profile picture is a black coffee.


  1. No different than in the 1960’s. We got them from Spain, Morocco and Turkey. Housed them in inner cities together, because middle class Dutch moved to the suburbs. Did not know what to do with them when economy went down and they did not go back to their home countries , rich as kings.
    So in 1980’s we got new houses build in the same inner cities to house them and have their family come over to join them, legally. Now whole areas of cities are changed totally. There is not a single sign of intergration or sometimes even assimilation. I pray that the end result of this influx now will not be the same. I don’t mind foreign workers but think before you start recruiting them: what do you do with them once the economy goes down? Where are you housing them and possibly their families. How do you guarantee that there is real integration? I have seen it happen once, hate to see the Netherlands repeat their failed efforts. I am Dutch but live in the US.

    • The solution for problem of assimilation is really simple – divide them. They are spending most of time in works and homes where there is a lot more people from their countries so they don’t need to learn the culture and language even English. We all living in the same country but you (Dutch) have their own friends, working places etc. It’s even hard to join to work in a company with Dutch and also many people don’t want to rent a room for people from other countries (Dutch only).

      • I find this comment really interesting, mostly because I’m all for people feeling comfortable, speaking in their own language and having a sense of community. Then I remember, most of the people that seek out their own language or communities do it out of crippling anti-social fear – they’re afraid they’ll fail when they try and learn Dutch, they’re afriad they won’t make new friends even if they learn Dutch and most of all they’re afraid to be alone in a foreign country. Fear is the driving force behind regressing into your own sub-communities in a country that is of an entirely different culture. You can say that “they don’t want to integrate or assimilate” but I insist that it’s fear that prevents them (whoever “they” are) from integrating.

  2. How can I have an opportunity to work in the Netherlands as foreign expatriate from Bangladesh, when I am a Microbiologist with Ph D having expertise in Medical Microbiology


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