Highest participation among migrants with advanced-level Dutch
There is a link between the command of the language and their position on the job market. Of the migrants who did not speak Dutch or had a little to fair command, roughly half were in paid work. Migrants who rated their language skills as very good had the highest participation in the labour market at 69 percent in 2021. This is even slightly higher than among migrants whose mother tongue is Dutch; but that is because the latter are relatively older and older people are less often in paid work.
The differences in labour participation among migrants with varying levels of Dutch are partly related to their educational attainment and the age at which they arrived in the Netherlands. Higher educational attainment and migration at a young age are linked to a better command of the Dutch language as well as to higher labour market participation.
|Beheersing Nederlands||Employed (% of 15 to 74-year-old migrants)||Unemployed (% of 15 to 74-year-old migrants)||Not in the labour force (% of 15 to 74-year-old migrants)|
|Little or no command||54.6||6.9||38.5|
Relatively high occupational level among migrants who speak little or no Dutch
More than half of the migrants with no or very limited command of the Dutch language work in jobs at a high occupational skill level. They include software and application developers, for example, or marketing, public relations and sales consultants. The share working at high skill level is significantly larger than among migrants with a better grasp of the language. On average, 35 percent of all employed people in the Netherlands work at the highest occupational level.
Part of the migrants who do not speak Dutch are so-called knowledge workers, for whom English is the working language in what is often a more international working environment. Migrants who are native speakers or very advanced learners of Dutch work at occupational levels that are similar to people born in the Netherlands. In general, migrants with a fair to good command of Dutch work at slightly lower occupational levels.
|Beheersing Nederlands||Lowest skill level (% of 15 to 74-year-old population in work)||One but lowest skill level (% of 15 to 74-year-old population in work)||One but highest skill level (% of 15 to 74-year-old population in work)||Highest skill level (% of 15 to 74-year-old population in work)|
|Little or no command||12.9||25.3||9.9||51.9|
|Born in the Netherlands||7.5||38.9||18.7||34.9|
1 in 10 migrants speak little or no Dutch
In 2021, 10 percent of migrants indicated they were unable or hardly able to communicate in Dutch. Almost half of migrants describe themselves as highly fluent, or are native speakers. Highly fluent are those who migrated to the Netherlands at a very young age, for instance. Furthermore, just under half of all migrants have at some point taken part in Dutch language training. Migrants born in Suriname or the Dutch Caribbean often have Dutch as their mother tongue. More than half of migrants said they did not speak Dutch or barely spoke any Dutch at the time of migrating to the Netherlands.
|Geboorteland||Native fluency (% of 15 to 74-year-old migrants)||Excellent command (% of 15 to 74-year-old migrants)||Good command (% of 15 to 74-year-old migrants)||Fair command (% of 15 to 74-year-old migrants)||Little or no command (% of 15 to 74-year-old migrants)|
|Europe (excl. NL)||15.5||29.9||21.7||19.5||13.4|
|Suriname, Dutch Caribbean||68.4||18.2||10.0||3.3||0.2|
Language sometimes an obstacle in looking for a job
Most migrants said they did not encounter any obstacles in finding employment. For a minority (10 to 15 percent), their weak command of the Dutch language did pose an obstacle. This is a slightly larger share than the group who reported being unable or barely able to speak Dutch in 2021.