The OECD Local Employment and Skills unit, part of the OECD’s Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme), and the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM) are co-operating in providing technical support to countries that want to reform their local employment and skills systems. The project “Supporting job creation, skills development and social inclusion in cities in the Netherlands” aims at promoting new measures that will support cities in reabsorbing jobseekers into the labour market and provide pro-active support to workers in the face of labour market changes.
Amid the current fast-moving environment of technological disruption, digitisation, and automation, the European Union, its Member States and cities are all facing challenges in terms of changing labour markets. However, these developments also offer new opportunities if the right actions and policies are pursued. Labour market and skills policies play an essential role in enabling cities to turn those challenges into opportunities that will allow them to manage the transition to a climate-neutral economy and make the most of the digital transformation.
Unemployment is now on a downward trend all across the Netherlands and the labour market is tightening, with vacancies per jobseekers at a record level and the vast majority of occupations facing acute shortages. After the Czech Republic and Germany, the Netherlands faces the tightest labour market among 18 European countries. Nevertheless, more than 300 000 individuals are unemployed and 1.2 million people belong to the so-called labour market slack (definition Eurostat). In early 2022, about 12% of the extended work force in the Netherlands is either unemployed, either not looking and/or not immediately available for work or an underemployed part-timer.
Cities in the Netherlands are at the forefront of these labour market transformations and face the challenge of meeting employer demands on the one hand, and supporting jobseekers, especially the most vulnerable, into employment on the other. This requires both co-operation and co-ordination within the “ecosystem” for guidance to work, including national authorities, labour market regions, the National Public Employment Service and cities and municipalities.
Against this background, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment together with the City of Amsterdam, the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG) and the Public Employment Service (UWV) requested technical assistance from the European Commission's DG REFORM. As implementing partner, the OECD supports the City of Amsterdam and other cities across the Netherlands to both review and improve their existing instruments as well as to expand them to help people’s activation and inclusion into the labour market. Ultimately, the objective is to boost local job creating, enhance skills development, and, thus, strengthen the labour market in major Dutch cities such as Amsterdam.
Activities and Outcomes
The projects starts with an analysis of the institutional arrangements for the management of labour market and skills policies within the Netherlands through research, study visits and workshops in close exchange with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, the City of Amsterdam, the Association of Dutch Municipalities (VNG), the Public Employment Service (UWV) as well as officials working in selected Dutch cities. The institutional analysis will be complemented by an analysis of labour market outcomes and trends of Dutch cities in comparison to selected relevant European/OECD cities. In a series of international workshops and a study visit to another city in the EU, the Dutch authorities will have the opportunity to exchange with peers on best practices and innovative initiatives that enhance job creation and skills development at the city level. The outcome of these different activities will be a set of policy recommendations to support more effective skills and job creation policies in Amsterdam as well as other Dutch cities. The final step of the project is to support the Dutch authorities with the design and implementation of a pilot programme aimed at testing some of the proposed measures. The project is expected to end in October 2023.
Relevance for other countries
In the context of changing labour markets, driven by digitisation and automation, demographic challenges and the green transition, cities across the OECD face similar challenges as cities in the Netherlands. The advice and support offered to the Netherlands provides valuable lessons for other regions and cities across the OECD that want to review and improve employment and skills strategies to boost local job creating, labour market inclusion and skills development. Through the international exchanges included in this project, selected cities have the opportunity to participate in peer learning exchanges, and advance their own policies and programmes.
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International peer learning activities: Workshop series and study visit summary
Workshops in Amsterdam with international programme managers
Study visit to local initiatives in Berlin
Webinars with international policy makers
Project final event