Digitalization and Job Hiring in the Netherlands
The world as we know it is changing at a fast pace, moving from traditional business and cultural forms to digital technology in a process called digitalization. This process affects all aspects of our society, from communications, to production, to environment, to sales, to family life, and to working conditions. Today, we can even speak of a digital world, with a span including most ages and geographies across the planet: Half of the world's population is online, one third is on a social network, and more than half use mobile technology. This represents a global digital economy valued in $3 trillion (US), including technological infrastructure, e-Commerce, and an unlimited supply of content via internet.
According to the World Economic Forum, the impact of digitalization on society already is, and will be, wide and varied, with a forecast of up to 6 million jobs created worldwide between 2016 and 2025 in the logistics and electricity industries only. The digital revolution has eliminated roles (those associated with repetitive or standardized tasks) and created new ones, such as search engine optimization managers (SEO), social media managers, UX designers (user experience), front and back-end developers, technology managers, software engineers, programmers, and cloud computing specialists; new types of organizations such as cloud computing providers and social media agencies; and even new sectors of the economy such as digital security and data science, hence impacting largely the quantity and quality of work.
The Netherlands is a front-runner in this technological context, having one of the most advanced digital economies of the EU. Through the Dutch Digitalization Strategy, the Dutch government speeds up and supports the digital transition in the public administration, healthcare, mobility, energy, and the agri-food sectors; and strengthens the foundations of privacy protection, cybersecurity, digital skills and fair competition. The work market is specifically supported in the following areas: Up-to-date curriculum in all educational levels (good basic information and communication technology skills), adequate basic digital skills at employee levels (training), learning workforce (lifelong development), sufficient ICT professionals (promote the jobs of the future and foster public-private partnerships with close links between learning, work and innovation).
On September this year, the European Union published the Digital Economy and Society Index 2018 (DESI 2018), which ranked Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands in the first four places of the most digitally advanced economies respectively out of 28 member states. This index is structured in five areas: Connectivity, human capital, use of internet services, integration of digital economy, and digital public services. Let us see how the Netherlands has adapted to the digital era, and specially how the changes are impacting the job market in the country.
The Netherlands is the European leader in connectivity with a high-quality, omnipresent digital infrastructure that supports highly advanced businesses, education and science, and attracts international investments. Broadband services are available via fixed, mobile and satellite networks. The fixed broadband coverage is more than 98% and 4G (fourth generation of mobile broadband) is available to the entire population.
The ultrafast broadband coverage reaches 97% while take-up is at one third of the households. The major telecommunications services providers are KPN and VodafoneZiggo.
The Netherlands ranks second in the EU considering the number of individuals using the internet and those with advanced digital skills. The supply of information and communications technology (ICT) specialists is higher than the EU average with 5%. There is a significant demand for highly skilled professionals in big data, cybersecurity and artificial intelligence in the country. In January 2018, there were more than 33,000 online ICT vacancies, with a demand growing by 50%. According to the Dutch employee insurance agency (UWV), this demand will continue to grow, transforming the shortage of these professionals into a potential hindrance for development. Two initiatives look up to tackle this problem: The Human Capital Agenda ICT, which brings together companies and educational institutions to get young people interested in the jobs of the future; and the Technology Pact 2020, that fosters public-private partnerships in which learning, work and innovation are closely linked.
Use of Internet Services
Almost all Dutch people (94%) make extensive use of internet services, especially for banking (93%) and shopping (82%). The internet services most used include reading the news online (80%), listening to music (88%), and watching videos and playing games (93%). Dutch people are also increasingly using video calls (46%) and social media networks (70%).
Integration of Digital Technology
Dutch enterprises are strongly growing in their business digitalization and e-commerce presence by sharing electronic information, using radio-frequency identification (RFID), using social media, issuing e-Invoices, using the cloud, selling via online text messaging (SMEs), and doing online cross-border selling. The Netherlands ranks first in the EU in terms of enterprises analysing big data from any source. The Knowledge and Innovation Agenda 2018-2012 identifies the following job key sectors: Big data, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, blockchain and 5G (5th generation of cellular mobile communications technology). In the manufacturing industry, the Smart Industry Program has created 32 field labs in which companies and knowledge institutes develop and test ICT applications. Another initiative,Make IT work, the retraining project of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, was selected as the model for teaching digital skills in Europe. The project makes it possible for highly educated people with no specific IT background to retrain to a position of software engineer, cyber security specialist or business analytics specialist and start a new job onsite.
Digital Public Services
Ninety percent (90%) of the 550 most used government-wide services are actually digitally available. This includes pre-filled forms, online service completion, businesses digital public services, open data, and e-Health. In 2017, Dutch internet users reached extensively for health information online (75%). The government fosters an Open Data Policy 2017 that includes the aim to provide online information on traffic and transport, apps and route planners.
Digital technologies are changing the way we live and work. Many of us are able to work remotely, anytime, anywhere, with easy access to information that improve our work responses, but that can also blur the boundaries between work and private life. Routine tasks are replaced by computers while many new jobs are created. We must be conscious of the necessity to keep up with the times by reskilling ourselves with focus on the future of work: Cybersecurity, ICT, programming, big data science, software engineering, business analytics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and 5G. But we must find our way into the future without losing ourselves in it, preserving the human qualities that make any technology possible, serving our workplaces and communities for the good.
Written by Paula Arellano Geoffroy for Together Abroad