The Netherlands have one of the lowest rates of youth unemployment in Europe. Other countries, like the UK, have looked at the Netherlands in awe, trying to understand the secret of success.
Part of their success is rooted in their national culture: work hard, make money. “It is absolutely unacceptable to have our young people just sitting at home,” said the minister of employment Paul de Krom, quoted by the BBC in 2011. As a Dutch youngster, you are expected to start working as soon as you reach the legal age. Finding a 15-year old filling up the shelves of a supermarket is a very common sight. Starting to work from an early age teaches young people the value of money, allows them to start saving up and to slowly build up a CV.
Let’s not forget that the Dutch are a nation of traders and merchants, and they have entrepreneurship in their blood: I myself know quite a few young Dutch who have their own companies, mostly in design and web services, but also in other fields.
Moreover, the government is actively sponsoring investing in young people. The ‘Act investing in young people’ (in Dutch: Wet investeren in jongeren - WIJ) obliges municipalities to offer either a job, some form of schooling or training, or a combination of both to those young people, aged 18 to 27, that apply for a benefit. Municipalities also provide offices where to seek career advices, which sensibly help the youth understanding what their skills are, how to improve them and how to apply them.
However, perspectives of employment for those young expats may not look as bright. As foreign students notice, it is hard to find a job that gives access to the 8-hours minimum currently required to apply for studiefinanciering. The language is a barrier, as the economic crisis has made the Dutch less open towards foreigners: nowadays, even souvenir shops in the center of Amsterdam require their perspective employees to be fluent Dutch speakers.
Foreign students striving to find a job should make use of the career service desks, which are available for them too. Alternatively, they should show some Dutch business initiative: advertise online your babysitting, language teaching, or cleaning skills and earn some euros!