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Netherlands – Staffing industry still discriminates, says government

17 December 2012

Migrant workers from non-Western countries face worse job prospects than local jobseekers as staffing firms in the Netherlands continue to discriminate against candidates based on their ethnic origin.

Male migrant workers are particularly at a disadvantage in the labour market, according to new research by the governmental institute for social research. This found that native jobseekers using recruitment agencies stand more of a chance of being offered a job than applicants from non-Western countries. As part of the research, actors paid hundreds of visits to employment agencies. 46% of Dutch candidates were offered a job, compared to only 28% of foreign applicants.

The results were different when applicants applied online via recruitment agencies. No distinction was then made between native and non-Western jobseekers. “The agencies selected primarily on the basis of job-relevant characteristics. Placing greater emphasis on this selection criterion could perhaps be a way of curbing discrimination on the labour market,” the institute said.

The high unemployment rate among migrant groups first prompted unions and the government to carry out research to track disadvantages faced by foreign jobseekers.  

The Dutch association of employment agencies (ABU) found in separate research last week that discrimination in the staffing industry is still very high although cases have slightly dropped. The organisation said that overall 250,000 migrant workers are active in the industry every year. 

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