Although the number of vacancies is growing exponentially, only half of employees and job seekers have a positive view of the opportunities the current job market offers. This is shown by the latest PageGroup Job Confidence Index figures. So where did this discrepancy come from?

Watching the news, you’d almost think employment opportunities are going downhill. Redundancies at large banks like ING and Rabobank, the closing of retain chains like MS Mode and V&D: they all contribute to this image of the economy weathering a storm.

Perceptions in the media

“This perception is reflected by our quarterly research into job market confidence,” says Joost Fortuin, director of Page Personnel Nederland. Every three months, PageGroup (the parent organisation of Page Personnel, Michael Page and Page Executive) gauges the working population’s confidence in their own career, the job market, and the economy in general.

This research shows that only half of employees and job seekers think that the job market is recovering. “The truth is that the job market is actually doing really well,” says Fortuin. “But messages in the media have been such that there is a lack of awareness of this fact. After all, redundancies and closures make the news more often than new job openings do. This makes many people feel that it is still difficult to find a job.”

Great need for talent

But the opposite is true, says Fortuin: “we’re actually seeing a rise in the number of vacancies.  Companies have a great need for talent again. In fact, there is such a demand for good candidates that we’re on the edge of a period of scarcity. And this causes candidates to make more demands as well. Where just last year, employers could afford to sit back and let the candidate prove his or her suitability, the tables have now turned.”

The most recent job market figures tell the same story. According to research by the CBS, the number of unemployed people dropped by an average of thirteen thousand per month in the past number of months. The strongest decrease in the number of job seekers was seen among those over 45 - who have had the most difficulty finding a new job in recent years. The number of job seekers is currently at 510 thousand, which equates to 5.7% of the working population.

Every reason for a positive outlook

The recovery of the job market is not limited to the Netherlands alone. The number of jobs is increasing across the entire European Union. The European Commission’s latest employment figures show that since the lowest point of the crisis, in the summer of 2013, 7.9 million jobs have been added. With 223 million working Europeans, the number of jobs is now back pre-crisis levels.

So there’s every reason for a positive outlook, says Fortuin: “take the construction sector. That sector suffered for years. But thanks to the recovering economy and low interest rates, the real estate market is growing again. And as a result there’s a demand for good professionals. We’re seeing a similar trend in most other sectors. So candidates can be confident about their chances on the job market.”

The future has already started

And most candidates do, as far as the future’s concerned. Almost three quarters of candidates aged between 30 and 50 believe the job market will be looking bright again in the near future. And the majority of candidates below 30 and over 50 have confidence in the future as well. “And rightly so,” says Joost Fortuin. “I would simply add: the future has already started.”

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