Refugees and work: the Zeeland paradox
On the 31st of October, Barbara Oomen held a keynote lecture at a meeting on ‘Refugees and Work’ organized by the province of Zeeland. In it, she spoke about the paradox of the province. The booming economy in this rural province makes that there is a real need for employees in fields like care, hospitality and agriculture. At the same time, refugees who are allocated housing in Zeeland find it very difficult to find employment. Here, there are vast differences between the support they receive from the province’s 13 municipalities. Key solutions here are threefold: investing much more in language support and integration, investing in long-term employment that truly connects to people’s talents and – for that reason – putting much more effort into education. Currently, the Dutch Participation Law and those implementing it often make people take up low-skilled jobs instead of investing in long-term employment. The challenges concerned are the responsibility of many partners - like municipalities, employers, companies and schools – but the province could play a larger role in considering newcomers as an opportunity for Zeeland.