Academic journal article Migration Letters

The Next Generation: Experiences of Higher Educated Turkish-Dutch on the Hague Labour Market

Academic journal article Migration Letters

The Next Generation: Experiences of Higher Educated Turkish-Dutch on the Hague Labour Market

Article excerpt


This paper explores the relationship between education and labour market positioning in The Hague, a Dutch city with a unique labour market. One of the main minority groups, Turkish-Dutch, is the focus in this qualitative study on higher educated minorities and their labour market success. Interviews reveal that the obstacles the respondents face are linked to discrimination and network limitation. The respondents perceive "personal characteristics" as the most important tool to overcoming the obstacles. Education does not only increase their professional skills, but also widens their networks. The Dutch education system facilitates the chances of minorities in higher education through the "layering" of degrees.

Keywords: the Netherlands; second generation; Turkish-Dutch; higher education; labour market entry.

In a constantly changing labour market, different groups compete to attain better positioning. In the Netherlands, immigrant groups often are at a competitive disadvantage to native groups. Earlier research indicates that for Surinamese in Amsterdam* 1 the general educational status increased from 1991 to 2002, but these higher educational levels did not result in an improved labour market position. Overall, their labour market position was stable, while their educational attainments increased (Nijhoff, 2006).

In this paper qualitative data are used to explore the labour market experiences of higher educated Turkish Dutch. The focus is on The Hague, the third most populated city in the Netherlands, where the government is seated and international organizations are concentrated. The focus of Dutch government policies has been on education as a means to emancipation and upward mobility. The effects of the increased educational qualifications of a minority group are explored in relation to the labour market experiences of that group.


Immigrant labour market success is not solely explained by human capital characteristics such as education (Hunkier, 2010; Liebig & Schröder, 2010; Tienda, 1993; Torres & Torre, 1991). Group characteristics, the local labour market context, and structural barriers influence the opportunities for migrants and their descendants. In 2010 there are about 348.000 people of Turkish descent living in the Netherlands, two per cent of the total population. The first generation, 51.1 % of Turkish in the Netherlands, arrived in the 1960s, mainly from poor and underdeveloped regions in Turkey (CBS/SCP, 2010; Cottaar, 1998, 2003; J. Lucassen & Penninx, 1997).

Group characteristics

Migration started with the recruitment of Turkish guest workers for manual labour where no skills were needed. The average education level of the group was low and their labour market participation was confined to a limited part of the labour market. The average education level of a group creates possibilities (or a lack of possibilities) for other members of that group: if a group's education level on average is low, regardless of ethnicity, the next generation has a harder struggle to achieve (for example see L. Lucassen & Willems, 2010). In addition, lack of networks that include potential employers, and the limited job search methods used by minorities will make it harder for certain groups to succeed in different sectors (Dagevos, 2006).

Local context

The Hague is the third biggest city and is unique in the Netherlands because it is the governmental capital of the Netherlands and international organizations are concentrated in The Hague. These characteristics would suggest an important service industry - a specific labour market context - and more oppor- tunities for the higher educated (Decisio, 2011).

Studies confirm the continuing burden of discrimination on the Dutch labour market against minority groups (Andriessen, et al., 2007; Bovenkerk & Breuning-van Leeuwen, 1978/1979; Gras & Bovenkerk, 1999). Important markers for discrimination and exclusion of minority groups are race and religion (van Tubergen, 2010). …

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