Free childcare still works far away in the part-time country Holland | NOW

The problems in childcare are so big right now that there will be a significant shortage in the coming years. Work pressure and absenteeism are increasing due to staff shortages. It is therefore doubtful whether the government will succeed in making childcare free of charge in 2025. Experts even warn of a doomsday scenario.

“We would certainly like to offer broader and cheaper care options so that part-time employees, for example, can work more hours. But that in turn means that there is more demand for care. We are in a vicious circle,” says Ton Wilthagen. Professor of Labor Market at the University of Tilburg.

“The cabinet is facing a huge task, especially in the short term, where a breakthrough is needed. The situation is problematic due to the high work pressure and sickness absence. Part-time employees therefore no longer want to work more hours. In addition, it is mainly women , working in this sector. which, for example, also provides informal care and other household chores. There is not really a quick fix to this problem. “

Our country is European champion in part-time work. In the first quarter, there were 4.5 million part-time employees, according to figures from Statistics Netherlands. At 73.4 percent, Dutch women are well above the European average of 30.7 percent. For men, it is 23.3 percent, compared to an EU average of 8 percent.

‘We are in a demographic split’

According to Ruben Fukkink, professor of childcare at the University of Amsterdam, we can not avoid the fact that childcare organizations more often have to terminate current contracts with parents. “I predict a doomsday scenario with a significant lack of childcare. In addition, it will not be available to all parents. The whole system is under pressure, we are in a demographic split and must return to the drawing board to see how we can keep this sustainable system up and running. drive.” can keep. “

Childcare is planned to be free in 2025. The sector expects this to increase demand. Currently, childcare is struggling with a shortage of 3,000 to 4,000 employees. By 2025, this shortage will have increased to 32,000 people, and by 2030, another 50,000 employees will be needed, according to figures from the Childcare Department (BK).

‘Solutions can not be realized quickly’

Fukkink emphasizes that there are several possible solutions, but that they cannot be realized quickly. “Part-time workers can work more hours, but not everyone needs to work more for a few extra euros. In addition, education and the influx of new people into the sector can be accelerated, for example from primary school. And we can educate refugees “But it all takes time and will not be done tomorrow.”

Another solution is to invite employees not to retire completely, Fukkink believes. “And you can also place more children in a group, but that comes at the expense of quality.”

‘We need to change something about the tax rules’

The employers’ association AWVN is experiencing that childcare must increasingly say no to customers. “We have therefore for a long time advocated to make it possible and more attractive for part-time employees in childcare to work more hours. Employers must arrange this properly and the tax rules must be changed. Part-time employees are now often subject to a different tax rate or You miss out. of benefits if they work more hours, ”a spokesman said.

Wilthagen believes that childcare should be given more priority, especially in the longer term. “We need to focus more on the issues in vital sectors. In this case, we need to strengthen education by making it more attractive to students. And we need to do everything we can to maintain the current workforce in the sector by doing work more appealingly. “

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