Tim Kersten interview

National support centre for labour migration (LSA)
16 October 2023
Tim Kersten has been working together with Samira Belhadj and Margriet de Jong since 1 March this year on establishing the Landelijk Steunpunt Arbeidsbemiddeling (LSA), the national support centre for labour migration. An initiative from the Ministerie van Sociale Zaken en Werkgelegenheid (Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment), it was set up with the intention to ease the burden that the Netherlands is facing when trying to find the right people and enough people within its own labour market.

“Companies within the Netherlands are looking further than just the Dutch labour market to engage employees. They want to recruit from the European Union (EU), from further afield in Europe, and also outside of Europe. However, this is not without consequences. There are laws which are intended to protect the Dutch and EU labour markets.”

Tim and his colleagues are experts in assisting businesses on their quest to find the right talent for each job opportunity, while primarily utilising the best the Dutch and EU labour markets have to offer: Tim: “that's sort of equilibrium we have to find.”

Is LSA a national organisation? 

“LSA is for the whole of the Netherlands. We are part of the EURES network in the Netherlands (EURopean Employment Services). The EURES network is Europe wide, so it's available in all EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which means that around 1000 people are collaborating together on a daily basis. The aim is to enable intermobility between the EURES network.”

Why is it important for the LSR to focus on talent from inside the Netherlands or inside the EU?

“Dutch law states that we have to find the available people to fill positions in the first place within our own borders. So in the Netherlands. When that is not an option, we move on to the next step, which is to search in the European Union or the European Economic Area and Switzerland. It's not that there is some preference for cross-border or within the respective Euroregions, but as well it's more logical to to look for people on the other side of the border, for instance, in Germany or in Belgium, before you invite people from Estonia or Greece to to come to the Netherlands. If people live in Germany, that's 30 kilometres from the border with the Netherlands, they can still commute. So then that would not involve immigration for that, the person which is, you know, if you come from Estonia, well, you can't commute that every day from the east of to the Netherlands. So it's more logistically practical to look in the border region.”

Who exactly falls under the labour market in the Netherlands?

“When we talk about the labour market in the Netherlands, we are referring to the people who live here and who are entitled to work here.

Other groups who reside in the Netherlands such as asylum seekers or British citizens, or those who employers want to recruit from outside the EU, for instance, clergy, seasonal workers or professional athletes, differ by category according to the Uitvoeringsinstituut Werknemersverzekeringen (UWV) and therefore have special conditions when applying for a work permit (tewerkstellingsvergunning, TWV). These special conditions are listed on the UWV website (only available in Dutch).”

How does the LSA achieve the goals they set for themselves?

“By going out and speaking to employers. Our task is to create some awareness among these employers that they have to carry out certain steps, and to make certain efforts – some of which are mandatory – when applying for a work visa. For example, it's a mandatory exercise to conduct a search in the Netherlands before an employer attempts to recruit someone from Brazil.”

What challenges in particular do employers face during the recruiting of talent outside the EU?

“Last year there were around 1200 applications for permits, of which only 400 were granted. That means that a lot of these employers try a particular approach, but they don't succeed because they didn't do their homework correctly. For example, they couldn't provide evidence that they have done everything in their power to find the right people in the Netherlands or the EU.

There’s a whole range of reasons why applications are denied. We try to focus on alleged reasons that applications are  denied and how to overcome a particular shortage or deficit within that application process.”

How does LSA aim to assist in the application process?

“So our goal is to inform employers before they apply for the relevant visa(s) for their prospective employee. To make sure that they have all the information required for the application, otherwise it's almost a “no go” situation.

On the other hand, we also try to appeal to the prospective employees. We review the application which was denied so that we can determine what the reason was and how they could do it better next time.”

How do you inform employers?

“For example, we have a document which we share with them. So it's called 34 Solutions for Employers. It is a guide to first utilising the talent you have in your own organisation, or looking at your organisation to see if it can be structured more efficiently to solve labour shortages.''

What would be your message to employers considering applying for a work permit for a prospective employee?

“Well, it's just the invitation that if an organisation is planning on applying for a work permit, then the first thing that they should do is contact us because we can help them to get all the  information they need before they put together their application.”

Contact UWV
Contact Tim Kersten

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