Mass exodus from healthcare as record 155,000 quit their jobs

More and more people are quitting their healthcare jobs. Over 155,000 people who worked in healthcare in the first quarter of last year left a year later. That is the largest outflow since 2010, when Statistics Netherlands (CBS) started tracking the data.

The net number of employees in the care sector did increase because the inflow was slightly higher than the outflow. Compared to the 155,100 employees who left healthcare, almost 176,000 people started working in healthcare. As a result, the total number of employees increased by nearly 21,000. However, the difference is getting smaller and smaller. At the beginning of last year, the net workforce grew by over 25,000 people; at the beginning of 2021, the increase was about 41,000 in one year. In 2010, the number of healthcare workers increased by over 74,000 annually.

CBS did not investigate the reasons why people leave healthcare and therefore has no explanation for the increase. It is unclear whether, for example, the workload plays a role. “We do know that healthcare workers have been struggling with a high workload for many years, but they also derive a lot of satisfaction from that. They find their work meaningful. Neither has changed very much,” said CBS chief economist Peter Hein van Mulligen.

According to CBS, most of those who left did not return to the care sector, though the stats office did not investigate which sector they left to. A small group went on to work in the care sector as self-employed persons or through an employment agency. They were retained for the sector but did not count as employees. Care workers have also left because they retired. CBS does not rule out the possibility that the outflows will return again later but expects that this will not involve large numbers.

CBS does not make forecasts and therefore doesn’t state whether the outflow will soon outstrip the inflow. Van Mulligen: “We do see that the demand for care will only increase because people are getting older. There are few possibilities for automation, so there will always be a high demand for people.”

In total, approximately 1.4 million people in the Netherlands work in the care and welfare sector. That makes the sector one of the largest employers in the country.

Reporting by ANP

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