From asylum seeker to healthcare provider

The Advisory Committee on Migration Affairs (ACVZ) concludes that the government and healthcare organizations should give asylum migrants a better chance to provide the extra hands that are needed in the healthcare sector. This report was drawn up at the request of the State Secretary for Justice and Security.

Asylum migrants hardly manage to get a job in the healthcare sector

There have been major staff shortages in the healthcare sector, which could increase to 130,000 workers by 2030. Despite this, there are asylum migrants who are unable to find work. Even during the coronavirus crisis, when extra hands are needed in the healthcare sector, asylum migrants are hardly ever being given the opportunity to work as healthcare providers. This is despite the fact that some have already worked in the healthcare sector. So why is it so difficult for asylum migrants to get a job in a sector that so desperately needs new workers? And what can we do to solve these problems?

Asylum migrants have to overcome many obstacles to work in healthcare

Asylum migrants encounter many obstacles on their way to work as a healthcare provider. They have to wait a long time for the decision on their asylum application, have to wait six months before they are allowed to start working and receive insufficient guidance when seeking a suitable job and /or education to work in the healthcare sector. People who have worked abroad as a doctor or nurse often first have to go through a complex and expensive process in the Netherlands. For doctors trained outside the European Economic Area (EEA), this process takes four years on average. Once at work, (asylum) migrants who work in healthcare have to get used to the culture in the workplace and they also regularly have to deal with (unconscious) prejudices or sometimes even discrimination by clients and colleagues.

Government and healthcare organizations must focus more actively on the contribution of asylum seekers

Anyone who wants the healthcare sector to make more use of the many potential helping hands that are already in our country will have to give asylum seekers a better chance to contribute. This can be done by the government removing the legal and administrative obstacles to the labor participation of asylum seekers and by preventing these obstacles from recurring in the future. In addition, the government can speed up and simplify the process of recognising the foreign diplomas and offer more opportunities for a practice-based, tailor-made approach. The Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA), municipalities, educational institutions and healthcare organizations can identify and intensively coach asylum migrants who want to work in healthcare at an early stage. Healthcare organizations can respond better to the diversity in Dutch society, for example by paying more attention to a safe working environment in recruitment and selection and by creating new professions, such as interpreters and cultural mediators.

Public presentation of the report

The report was presented during a digital meeting on 11 May 2021. The chair of the day was Sandra Rottenberg. Monique Kremer (chair of the ACVZ) has explained the report. Doekle Terpstra, chair of the Committee Working in Healthcare (Commissie Werken in de Zorg), received the report on behalf of the Committee. Experts Zainab Osman nurse and also councilor for the PvdA in the municipality of Wijchen and Monirha Shams, HBO V teacher at the Hogeschool Utrecht, shared their experiences on their way from asylum migrant to care provider. Roel Goffin, member of the Board of Directors of Zuyderland, Ria Rozendaal, director of MBO College Welfare & Care MboRijnland, and Pauline van Schie, director of Reception & Guidance at COA, responded to the report.

Missed the presentation?  You can view it (in Dutch) via YouTube channel of the Advisory Committee on Migration Affairs (ACVZ).


Do you have any questions about this report? Then contact Christine Otten or Sonja Avontuur

Figures Migration and the healthcare sector

In the overview of figures 'Migration and the care sector', the Advisory Committee lists a number of available data on personnel shortages in the healthcare sector and the labor participation of migrants in the healthcare sector. The data shows that relatively few migrants work in healthcare in the Netherlands, both compared to the entire economy and compared to other OECD countries, including neighboring countries such as Germany and Belgium.