Flexmarkt column, October 2023

“Orange card” for migrant workers

Frank van Gool (OTTO Work Force) pleit in zijn column voor Flexmarkt voor de introductie van een ‘orange card’ voor arbeidsmigranten van buiten de EU. Zo moeten tekorten in cruciale sectoren, zoals de zorg en de techniek, opgelost worden.

It’s high time for a new policy. And I’m not only getting here on my hobbyhorse, such as re-introduction of the employment agency license, strict measures to combat mala-fide practices and decoupling work from housing. This must be, anyway, finally regulated properly by a new government. Yet, I mean something different by “new policy”: the days of unregulated labour migration are over. I call for the introduction of an “orange card” for migrant workers from outside the EU to help solve the shortages in crucial sectors, such as (health) care and technical branches.

This permit can be a solution to huge labour force shortages in crucial sectors, such as (health) care and technical branches.

The citizens of the European Union can work anywhere within the EU borders, but it doesn’t sort out labour force deficits in crucial sectors. That’s why I’m calling for a skilled worker scheme for the non-EU-citizens, next to the so-called knowledge-migrant programme. Professionals from outside the EU would be required to have an “orange card.” Such a permit can be a solution to huge labour force shortages in crucial sectors, such as care and technical branches. This way, we can control in the future who may live and work here and guarantee that their stay in the Netherlands is temporary. In other words, the orange card ensures functional, regulated, and circular labour migration.

Functional labour migration
By “functional” I mean that the orange card would be issued to migrant workers to start jobs in key sectors, such as (health) care, energy-transition, and technical branches, in which it is impossible to solve the personnel deficits within the Netherlands or the EU. “Regulated” means that clear rules must be in place. To get an “orange card,” the migrants would need to speak the Dutch or English language. Also, they must be skilled workers, have housing and a permanent job (full-time, fixed-term contract or for the term of the orange card). The employees from outside the EU must directly get a permanent employment contract from the actual employer. Recruitment must be ethical, which means hiring people only from countries which have labour force surpluses with which the Netherlands have made respective arrangements.

Circular labour migration
“Circular” involves the return of the migrant to the country of origin. The orange card would be valid for up to five years. The intention is that after this period, migrant workers return to their home country to invest acquired knowledge, skills, and money there. Housing continues to be a bottleneck. I call on the political leaders in The Hague to give the municipalities a directive to let organise adequate temporary housing for at least 70 percent of labour migrants employed in the given region. Stimulating temporary housing in the proximity of companies with fast permit procedures can prevent the competition on the side of other target groups which suffer from shortages on the housing market. Bring the execution of flex housing under the scope of Crises and Recovery Act (Crises- en herstelwet) – this could speed up the turnaround time of required procedures. In short, the Netherlands is yearning for decisive leadership and, as far as I’m concerned, that should also lead to new policies on the labour market. Rather today than tomorrow.

Sticking your neck out

Frank van Gool made the news this week for being the only entrepreneur to ask a question during the SBS6 election debate. In the column for Flexmarkt, he explains why he did so.

Column Flexmarkt May 2023

Frank van Gool (OTTO Work Force) is aware that running a business is not just about key financial figures. Still, in his column for Flexmarkt, he admits to be curious about OTTO’s position in the Flexmarkt Turnover Ranking (Omzetranglijst) which is about to be published.

Column Flexmarkt Feb 2023

“It is not migrant workers that are a problem; the real problem is housing for them” – states Frank van Gool of OTTO Work Force in his column in Flexmarkt. “Provinces must take the lead and ensure that municipalities seriously address the issue of housing for migrant workers.”