‘Let teachers and healthcare staff work more hours’

In order to ensure that there are enough teachers, healthcare personnel and defense personnel in the future, the government must in the short term encourage workers to work more hours. That is what employers, employees and experts advise, united in the Social and Economic Council (SER).

“If we want to keep the public facilities up to standard, we will all have to work more together,” says economist Bas ter Weel, crown member of the SER. He says that the cabinet must ensure that more work actually pays off by lowering taxes. In addition, there should be more options for childcare.

“It is always up to people to decide how much they work, but we know that by encouraging and stimulating people are prepared to work more,” says Ter Weel.

Big ambitions

The cabinet wants to come up with a plan this summer to tackle the shortages in the public sector. In anticipation of this, the SER will issue an advisory report pointing out the accompanying problems of the deficits.

According to the SER, for example, the shortage of teachers leads to declining performance of children in education. In addition, it will be difficult for the government to realize major ambitions regarding climate and housing if the shortages persist.

In order to quickly reduce the problems, it is especially advised to get more people into work and to let those who already work work more hours.

Childcare

Teachers and healthcare staff in particular work relatively often part-time and some would like to work more, says the advice. “Contract extension is often not a topic of discussion, because the idea is that the employee or the employer does not want that.”

To allow people to work more hours, the options for childcare must be expanded, although the SER warns that the options are limited due to the lack of staff at childcare. Over the next ten years, this sector will need 50,000 additional employees.

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In addition, reference is made to the untapped labor potential of 1.3 million people in the Netherlands who want to work more hours or who are currently unemployed. The government should also try to get more pensioners back to work. “This group of vital elderly people will increase sharply in the coming years.”

More permanent contracts

Remarkably enough, the advice is somewhat vague with regard to labor migrants. The European Union wants to make it easier to attract migrants from outside the EU. The SER writes that migrants can be a solution, but wants to investigate in which sectors they can be used for follow-up advice. However, it is advised to help status holders find work more quickly.

In the long term, the SER recommends making work in, for example, healthcare and education more attractive, by reducing regulatory pressure, among other things. The advice is also to work more with permanent contracts and the government should focus more on diversity in order to become more attractive as an employer.

The government should also try to deploy the people who already work more efficiently, for example through digitization.

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