Accompanying Partner Survey 2019

Each year, many internationals make the move to the Netherlands, and the Amsterdam Area specifically, to join their partner – be it a partner who was already living and working here, or one who has relocated for their job. With this in mind, IN Amsterdam commissioned ICAP – which was founded to build a bridge between Amsterdam’s international community and government and civic organisations – to carry out a survey to assess the experiences of accompanying partners entering the job market. The results were published in the Accompanying Partner Survey 2019.

A summary of the key findings

The survey was completed by 956 people, of which around 330 were based in the Amsterdam Area. 19% of respondents had lived in the country for less than one year, while 35% had been here for five or more years. The questions helped to collect information about the experiences of partners who had moved to the Netherlands, what they were looking for in terms of employment, and what worked and didn’t work when they arrived. Key findings included:

  • 7 out of 10 gave up their career or a business to make the move to the Netherlands;
  • Around 50% were looking for full-time work;
  • Two-thirds of respondents said they were willing to retrain to find work in another sector where there is more demand;
  • 4 out of 10 would have liked more support in finding work from their partner’s employer;
  • More than two-thirds said their lack of Dutch skills was a problem when looking for work;
  • 52% have a household income of less than €5,000 per month;
  • 76% have no plans to leave the Netherlands.

Crucially, in reply to an open question, many respondents noted that the search for work left them feeling angry, depressed or increased tensions between them and their partner.

A talent pool to treasure

There is a common misconception that the partners of internationals – or at least traditional expats who are working abroad temporarily – do not want to work. However, the survey shows that employment and career development is an equally important consideration for them as they settle into life in the Netherlands. What’s more, the group represents talent from a wide variety of industries, including education, IT/tech and management and consulting. They also represent a well-educated demographic, with 80% holding a university degree and more than 7% holding a PhD or postdoc qualification.

Talent is certainly something to be treasured in the present-day job market. However, a common problem is matching supply and demand, and ensuring a smooth path into a new job – especially when a career switch is involved. Obtaining a suitable skill level in Dutch has clearly been a hindering factor for many of the respondents. As has been the availability or awareness of suitable courses to permit a straightforward career switch.

The next steps

The findings of the research have already inspired IN Amsterdam to collaborate with House of Skills, creating a programme that offers direct support and information in English to help international newcomers get started in the Dutch job market. The report also encourages action across the entire employment chain, from the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency (NFIA) to local authorities and employers, encouraging them to better manage the expectations of international newcomers and promote the benefits of learning some Dutch before or upon arrival. What’s more, the companies most commonly employing internationals could be encouraged to help partners, perhaps by funding or using existing schemes to promote language learning.

Download the Accompanying Partner Survey 2019 (PDF).