Future scenarios

26th of November 2012
Future scenarios

As Dutch correspondent Nico Lemmens of ISS reports, cleaning association OSB held a meeting recently to discuss the employment challenges facing the cleaning sector in the next 10 years.

Most experts foresee in 10 years from now a Dutch labour market with dramatic shortages for the cleaning industry. The need to hire people with a so-called ‘distance to the labour market’ (euphemism for handicapped or disadvantaged people) will be inescapable. Recently the Dutch association of cleaning companies OSB organised a meeting to discuss this future. Guideline for the discussion was a scenario study in which four possible future scenarios were presented. Here they are in short.

Everybody involved

Cleaning companies are confronted with government requirements to hire disadvantaged people. Although government interference is intense, cleaning companies are willing to hire people with a distance to the labour market.

Seize your opportunity

Customers demand mature corporate social responsibility policies, eg, in terms of so-called ‘social return’. Cleaning companies that don’t comply will lose business. Pressure on cleaning companies is intense. There is no financial government contribution.


Strong government interference. Cleaning companies not willing to hire disadvantaged people are forced to do so by pressure from social and political organisations. Client systems start to exist in which people from the same social groups are helping each other to get jobs. Fierce competition from public companies is hindering the cleaning industry.

Survival of the fittest

Cleaning companies are hiring hardly any disadvantaged people and there is no government pressure. Cheap labour supply both from the Netherlands and from abroad is abundant. Financial means, necessary for training disadvantaged people, are lacking. The cleaning industry is confronted with competition from the black economy.

After having received this scenario presentation, participants discussed the scenarios in several groups. In spite of large differences between the four scenarios, there were remarkable similarities in the recommendations from the groups.

Government interference should be restricted. As a matter of fact, present government interference is considered to be too intensive already. Most participants are in favour of
disbanding the existing social job creation companies.

About 30 per cent of their employees will never get work without these companies.
There was disagreement as to the role these companies should play for this category. Job mediation and training for supervisors in dealing with handicapped employees could be part of such a role.

There was no agreement as to what the future core business for cleaning companies should be: cleaning business or ‘employership’.

When asked which scenario was deemed most likely, most participants pointed to ‘survival of the fittest’. At the same time, all participants agreed that this would be the most undesirable future scenario.


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