While certain political factions in the Netherlands advocate for reducing the influx of foreign workers, the EU Commission is spearheading a comprehensive initiative to make the European Union more appealing to global talent, unveiling a set of measures that includes a cutting-edge database for connecting employers with prospective employees.
The commission’s proposal urges member states to streamline and expedite the recognition of qualifications and skills for non-EU citizens, aligning it closely with the procedures employed for individuals from within the EU. The primary focus is on regulated professions, such as nurses, teachers, and accountants, where a certification from a regulatory body is imperative for employment.
Over qualification in the EU
Furthermore, the commission calls on EU countries to substantially narrow the gap in over-qualification rates between third-country nationals and their own citizens by 2030. Over-qualification occurs when individuals with advanced degrees occupy roles that do not necessitate such high levels of education. In 2022, the EU witnessed a 22% over-qualification rate, which rose to 32% for citizens from other EU countries and 39% for non-EU nationals.
In the Netherlands, 16% of workers are overqualified for their positions. Still, this figure escalates to 22% for EU citizens residing in the country and 28% for non-EU citizens, according to Eurostat data.
To enhance talent acquisition, the commission proposes the establishment of an ‘EU Talent Pool,’ facilitating the matching of EU employers with non-EU jobseekers. However, this initiative will only cover the 3% of jobs that remained unfilled last year by EU citizens or residents.
The commission calls on EU countries to substantially narrow the gap in over-qualification rates between third-country nationals and their own citizens
Apart from job opportunities, the online platform will serve as a comprehensive resource, offering information on recruitment processes, migration regulations, qualification recognition procedures, as well as details on working and living conditions. The commission emphasises that third-country nationals recruited through the EU Talent Pool will enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as domestic workers once employed.
While the plan awaits approval from the European Parliament and Council, it will remain a voluntary measure for EU member states.
Recognising talent challenges
The commission also recommends member states to promote language learning at all levels of education and training. Recognising the challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), particularly in hiring skilled staff, the commission underscores the importance of labour migration as a complementary solution.
In a Eurobarometer survey, 54% of SMEs reported difficulties in hiring staff with the right skills, especially in technical fields like lab work and mechanics. Dutch SMEs, in particular, face challenges, with 66% expressing difficulties in finding employees with desired skills.
As the issue of reducing both EU and non-EU migration gains prominence in the general election campaign, key political parties are calling for substantial cuts. However, the commission underscores the critical role of labour migration in addressing persistent workforce gaps.
Recognising shortages in 28 professions and anticipating exacerbation due to an aging population, the European Commission proposed changes to work and residence permit rules for non-EU nationals last year.