Labour market participation of refugees in the Netherlands and the role of social enterprises

Authors Leendert de Bell, Linda Bakker
Published in Economic and Social Integration of Refugees and Asylum Seekers through Social Entrepreneurship
Publication date 2022
Research groups Decent Work
Type Lecture


"Despite many efforts, people with a refugee background still have great difficulties to find a job on the Dutch labour market. This has adverse consequences for the economic independence of people with a refugee background, their social connections, personal development, health and general well-being, but also for employers as well as society in general. There are many sectors in the Dutch labour market with large, structural labor shortages, while at the same time much talent remains untapped. Meanwhile, more and more social enterprises in the Netherlands are stepping into this void, with the explicit goal to facilitate access to the labour market for people with a vulnerable position, including people with a refugee background. Consequently, these so-called work integration social enterprises (WISEs) are — by far — the dominant type of social enterprises in the Netherlands. Although the diversity between WISEs in terms of economic sectors, specific target groups and business models is large, the way in which they organize their key activities can serve as an example for regular employers, who still tend to think in problems rather than opportunities when it comes to employing people with a refugee background. At the same time, the impact of these social enterprises still remains relatively limited in comparison to the scale of the societal challenge. The aim of this study therefore is twofold: 1) to obtain a better understanding of the role of WISEs with regard to the sustainable labor participation of refugees, and 2) to assess the ways in which WISEs can scale their societal impact with respect to labour participation of refugees. These conference proceedings focus in particular on (new) forms of collaboration between WISEs and regular employers that aim to become more inclusive employers."

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Economic and Social Integration of Refugees and Asylum Seekers through Social Entrepreneurship
Key words Social Enterprises, Work Integration, Scaling, Societal Impact
Page range 28-31

Leendert de Bell