More 15 and 16-year-olds in paid work

The number of young people aged 15-26 in paid work increased by 34 thousand in Q4 2023 compared to the same quarter one year earlier. A total of 77.9 percent of young people aged 15-26 were in paid employment. More 15 and 16-year-olds, in particular, have started paid work in recent years. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on the Labour Force Survey, as part of the National Youth Monitor.
In early 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the percentage of young people in work (or labour force participation rate) fell, but young people have been entering the workforce in increasing numbers since then.

In Q4 2023, 25 and 26-year-olds had the highest labour force participation rate of all young people at 85.1 percent, and they worked an average of 34 hours per week. Over two-thirds of this age group are no longer in formal education. Labour force participation was the lowest among 15 and 16-year-olds at 62.8 percent, and they also worked the fewest hours, averaging 9 hours per week. Most in this group are students who have a part-time job alongside their studies. Generally speaking, as young people get older, they become more economically active and work more hours per week on average.

Largest rise in labour force participation among those aged 15 and 16

The labour participation rate among 15 and 16-year-olds was the lowest of all young people in Q4 2023. But this age group also added the most workers over the past two years. In Q4 2021, 56 percent of this group were in work; by Q4 2023, that proportion had risen to 62.8 percent.

Labour force participation rate among young people
jaarkwartaal15 and 16 years (%)17 and 18 years (%)19 and 20 years (%)21 and 22 years (%)23 and 24 years (%)25 and 26 years (%)

More young people in the labour market

More young people have entered employment over the past two years, but the number of unemployed young people did not fall. In Q4 2023 there were 157 thousand unemployed young people, which was actually 8 thousand more than two years earlier. Unemployed status means that a person is not currently in work but is actively looking for work and can begin work immediately.

Although more young people began working, the number of unemployed young people actually rose slightly because there were fewer young people outside the labour force. In Q4 2023, 428 thousand young people were not part of the labour force, whereas two years earlier that figure was nearly half a million. Among those aged 15 and 16, the number outside the labour force fell from 125 thousand to 102 thousand.

Young people not in paid work, Q4
leeftijdjaarPart of labour force and unemployed (x 1 000)Not part of labour force (x 1 000)
15-16 yrs202342102
15-16 yrs202144125
17-18 yrs20232972
17-18 yrs20212786
19-20 yrs20232683
19-20 yrs20212683
21-22 yrs20231768
21-22 yrs20211679
23-24 yrs20232549
23-24 yrs20212066
25-26 yrs20231652
25-26 yrs20211756

Nearly one-third of 15 and 16-year-olds in paid work are ‘stacking shelves’

In 2023, nearly one-third of 15 and 16-year-olds in work were restocking shelves in the retail sector. Young people in this age group also often work as kitchen assistants, waiting or bar staff, or sales assistants (in store or at the cash register). Since 2021, more 15 and 16-year-olds have been working in the hospitality sector, both as kitchen staff and waiting staff. There has been a slight fall in the number of shelf stackers and shop assistants.

Top 5 jobs among young people aged 15 and 16
beroep2021 (%)2023 (%)
Stacking shelves32.531.1
Kitchen assistant7.39.5
Waiting or bar staff5.98.2
Sales assistant10.66.8
Cash register6.65.5