Wanted: construction workers

Now that the economy is picking up, employers in the construction and healthcare sector will have difficulty finding staff, predicts the UWV.

IT staff were already hard to find, but employers in the construction industry and in the health sector are finding it difficult to find staff. Both sectors are growing rapidly as the economy picks up, the aging process continues and the years of austerity are over.

This is what the UWV benefits agency predicts in a labor market forecast for 2017 and 2018. The number of jobs in ‘care and welfare’ in 2018 is increasing most rapidly. This sector, which includes, for example, childcare and youth care, is already the largest sector with 1.24 million jobs of employees and 310,000 jobs for the self-employed.

More budget in healthcare
Remarkably, employment in this sector shrank between 2012 and 2016, by 6 percent. The number of jobs, especially in nursing and care, fell by 12 percent, from 267,000 to 235,000. Now the expectation is that this subsector will start to grow fast again, partly because cuts in nursing home care have been scrapped.

In this prediction, the UWV has not yet taken into account the manifesto of writer and presenter Hugo Borst and historian Carin Gaemers, endorsed by political parties, for better elderly care. The government is expected to release more budget for elderly care in nursing homes.

At the moment it is still not so bad to fill vacancies. “Gradually a tighter labor market is emerging in healthcare”, writes the UWV. Vacancies for carers, (district) nurses, specialists in geriatric medicine and insurance physicians are increasingly difficult to fill. “Employees in care will start feeling the pain, especially at MBO level 4, the highest level in secondary vocational education”, says Rob Witjes, head of labor market information at the UWV.

Growing vacancy rate
A measure of how cramped or spacious the labor market is in a sector is the vacancy rate: the number of vacancies per 1,000 employees. In healthcare, that with 22 vacancies per 1,000 employees is not yet among the highest. In the ICT sector, the job vacancy rate is highest at 53. The measure of tightness in health care is growing fast: by 83 percent between early 2015 and early 2017.
The vacancy rate in construction grew fastest: by 113 percent. Construction has reacted in recent years to the economic downturn: employment fell sharply as a result of the crisis on the housing and office market. Now that the housing market is picking up again, in 2017 the number of jobs for employees will grow again for the first time. Witjes: “The number of independent jobs has already grown, the number of employee jobs is expected to rise.” There is a particular demand for carpenters, bricklayers and installation technicians.

Both care and construction are affected by the fact that in recent years fewer young people have opted for training that is compatible with these sectors, presumably discouraged by the crisis and cutbacks. For example, the number of pupils in the vocational guidance course – a major source for construction workers – dropped by 40 percent between school years 2008-2009 and 2014-2015.

The elderly care has problems with finding a negative image, according to the UWV. HBO students find that care for older people offers little challenge and the work pressure is high, according to a survey quoted by the UWV.

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