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Netherlands & Belgium Labour Market Analysis: Contingent Work Already Well Adopted

Dustin Burgess | February 23 2023 |

Direct sourcing

High inflation rates coupled with record low unemployment rates currently characterise a mixed picture for European labour markets at the start of the new year.

In the Netherlands, the inflation rate soared to over 14% in November 2022, driven by higher energy and food costs, linked to the impacts of the Ukraine war. In Belgium, the inflation rate for the same month sat at 10.6%. 

The pressures on the labour markets of both the Netherlands and Belgium have been constant and diverse over the past year. With these inflationary pressures, coupled with rising interest rates, an energy price crisis and global supply chain shortages, businesses will need to find innovative ways to grow.

Let’s look deeper at the situation as it stands, in both the Netherlands and Belgium. 

The Netherlands

Macro Environment in the Netherlands

Unemployment increased in August 2022 to 3.8% in the Netherlands. The number of unemployed people increased by an average of 18,000 per month from June through August despite a rise in the number of workers actively pursuing employment. Additionally, numerous jobs were lost and for the first time since May 2021, the number of employed persons aged 15 to 74 years declined. 

Since the middle of 2020, the number of vacancies has rapidly increased, with each quarter breaking the prior quarter's record. The number of job openings per 100 unemployed people increased from 106 to 133 between the end of Q4 2021 and the end of Q1 2022.  

The labour market in the Netherlands has become increasingly contingent and is among Europe’s most flexible:

  • The proportion of self-employed people and flex employees in the total workforce has expanded by an additional 1.5 times in the last 20 years.
  • Today, flexible contracts are used by one-third of Dutch workers.
  • There are almost 1.7 million flexible-contract employees and more than 1 million independent contractors in the Netherlands 

Skills in Demand in the Netherlands

The Netherlands has a long history of high-tech engineering, innovation and science, much like its neighbour Germany. According to a worldwide talent bureau study, the Netherlands has the second-highest global demand for engineers, accounting for 13% of all job postings.7 

For many years, Dutch businesses have seen a significant need for IT workers. Many offer the opportunity to work from home to help attract talent. The best employment prospects are for data scientists, programmers and developers, among others. 

The technologies most sought-after are JavaScript, React and TypeScript. CSS, SQL and Python follow closely behind.  

Remuneration and Benefits in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is experiencing historic increases in salaries. According to the employers' association AWVN, salaries covered by collective labour agreements increased by more than 3% for the third consecutive month.8 

For developers in the Netherlands, areas of expertise and years of experience are important, and worker expectations reflect this. Front-end developers with less experience, for example, may anticipate earning roughly $41K, while the average salary for an individual with six to eight years of experience is about $67K. Similarly, back-end developers typically start around $45K, while the average salary for this position with six to eight years’ experience is about $65K. 


Macro Environment in Belgium

The Belgian employment market is both highly competitive and slow, and according to Magnit experts, it’s taking a long time to fill complex roles. In the mindset of candidates and employers, there’s a mixture of both energetic “getting back to normal” vibes after the pandemic and cautious hesitancy due to economic pressures and the War in Ukraine. 

Yet, there is an interesting difference of opinion on the degree of speed in the Belgian market:

  • Some Magnit sources argue that business processes have slowed, which explains the high time-to-fill figures.
  • Others observe that you need to be quick to land talent and that candidates are willing to move fast, even if it takes longer to source them.  

This is particularly true in the IT sector, where there has been as a candidate-sourcing crisis since the start of the pandemic. To land top talent in this space, recruiters have had to move aggressively. But there is also increasing fear driving a lot of workers to stay in their current roles, exacerbating the candidate shortage. 

Skills in Demand in Belgium

In terms of skills in demand, the Belgian market has a strong supply of IT technicians, SAP profiles, project and product managers, but candidates with Java C++ development skills, M3 profiles and DevOps engineers are more difficult to source. Recent emerging profile trends see digital marketing and data science increasing in importance. The introduction of novel recruitment techniques such as reaching candidates on TikTok and other social media further illustrates the tightness of the recruitment market.

Remuneration and Benefits in Belgium

Trends that emerged after the pandemic, such as remote working and increasing pay rates for high-tech and data roles, are continuing. Currently, benefits are stable but expanding in some cases by inflationary pressure and other factors in the need to attract talent in a candidate-driven market. This trend is similar to the UK and Irish markets and in general for tech/IT, but it seems to be more pronounced in Belgium. 

Download the Full Report for More

For more analysis of the European labour market, download our new report. The Winter 2023 Europe Labour Market Report features analysis on high-level trends across Europe, as well as a deep dive on Europe’s major markets. Discover the specific situation in each market, as well as best-practice tips for sourcing talent in Europe today.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Magnit is helping organizations implement winning contingent workforce programs globally, please contact a Magnit representative at

Disclaimer: The content in this blog post is for informational purposes only and cannot be construed as specific legal advice or as a substitute for legal advice. The blog post reflects the opinion of Magnit and is not to be construed as legal solutions and positions. Contact an attorney for specific advice and guidance for specific issues or questions.

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