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Liesbet Heyse: what can be done to help integrate newcomers on the Dutch labour market?

What can be done to help integrate newcomers on the Dutch labour market?

With my background in public administration and sociology, I study how public and nonprofit organisations address societal challenges in times of change. One of the topics I study, together with social psychologists Nina Hansen, Marloes Huis and Anne Kuschel, is the integration of refugees or so-called ‘newcomers’ in the Dutch labor market.

Liesbet Heyse

The labor market participation rate of newcomers is low compared to other European countries and to other migrant groups in the Netherlands. Whereas lots is done to prepare newcomers for a job, employers are hardly prepared to work with this group. Given the different cultural backgrounds of newcomers and that employers find it challenging to work with this group, we developed an employer training of two sessions together with Stichting Lemat. The training, which is funded by a Dutch National Science Agenda Startimpuls Grant, focuses on Eritrean newcomers.

The training departs from theoretical principles of ‘realistic tolerance’, acknowledging that tensions due to cultural differences are real, but that knowing deeper cultural causes for certain behaviour (i.e. being passive) will postpone negative opinions of that behaviour. For example, instead of thinking ‘this person is lazy’, employers learn that waiting for orders can be a sign of respect towards the boss in other cultures. Based on this theory, we developed practical ways to communicate productively. We piloted the first training session to 72 participants and it showed that participants’ cultural knowledge increased, just as their awareness of how cultural differences transpire in the workplace.

dr. L. (Liesbet) Heyse
First name
Associate Professor of Sociology (with ius promovendi)
I study nonprofit and public organizations that aim to improve the situation and position of disadvantaged groups in society. I focus on the relationship between these organizations' policies and interventions, their organizational features and the results of their operations. I study these issues in organizations such as humanitarian NGOs, and Dutch municipalities and NGOs working on the labor market integration of refugees, applying both qualitative and quantitative methods.
Last modified:19 April 2021 4.23 p.m.
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