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Expert opinion

"What the Dutch government is doing now to help Ukrainians is unprecedented! Iryna Musuc on life and work in the Netherlands

23.10.2022

It just so happens that since March I have been helping Ukrainian refugees, who by their own choice or by accident ended up in the Netherlands, in the process of employment and integration.

What the Dutch government, municipalities and Dutch people are doing now to help Ukrainians is unprecedented! In 8 years of living here and 5 years of working as a career coach I haven't seen anything like it.

The Dutch are very thorough and practical people. They plan everything in advance and do not rush decisions.

Don't be surprised if you have to wait a long time for BSN number and account opening. It is actually very fast by Dutch standards.

For example, you have to wait years for a decision about a regular refugee status.

Many people complain about Dutch medicine. Even the Dutch themselves. Medical services are expensive and you cannot always get them on time.

But since August, you receive free health care even when you go to work!

Kindergartens and after-school care are also costly here. But all working Dutch make use of them and find different ways to cut these costs: work 4 days a week, ask grandmothers for one day and so on. At the same time, if your income is low, the tax office can refund up to 95% of childcare costs.

There are no special jobs for Ukrainians. All the jobs you are offered at job fairs are open to everyone.

There are many expats and Dutch people working in these positions and physical labor is respected.

If you haven't been able to find a job for a month, don't give up. That's not a long time at all.

Statistics show that the Dutch and expats themselves take an average of 4 to 9 months to find a job.

If you are not happy with a job offer or company, inform the employer directly. The Dutch are very receptive to a rejection or any other direct answer and state the reason why. You will not be judged, let alone offended.

In the Netherlands it is the norm to say no.

But please do not disappear and do not reply to an employer's message asking why you are not getting the work, just for fear of saying no. For the Dutch, it is precisely the lack of communication that is disrespectful.

Recruitment agencies do not make money from Ukrainians. They have no right to take money from applicants. Their services are always paid by an employer.

And those agencies that work with Ukrainians, hire interpreters, knowing that many job seekers from Ukraine know neither English nor Dutch.

Many recruiting agencies have hired permanent Ukrainian-speaking staff to help not only with the hiring process, but also with the work process.

The job fairs that many municipalities hold for Ukrainians are not the norm at all.

They haven't hosted such events in the beginning and many don't have such experience. The Dutch have simply seen that you all really want to work and have decided to help you by setting up job fairs and connecting you with potential employers directly.

The ability of the Dutch to react quickly and organise the lives of so many new people in their country only inspires deep respect and admiration. I hope that after this article you will also appreciate the contribution of the Dutch people in integrating the Ukrainians!

Author: Irina Musuc, life coach

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