Skills shortage


According to regular reports in the general media and financial press, the Dutch labour market is in a tight squeeze. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the labour market worldwide, and the Netherlands has not remained unscathed. As a result of the lockdowns, for example, many people have left the hospitality industry to find employment elsewhere. Meanwhile, perhaps unsurprisingly, local delivery services such as Gorillas and Getir have grown exponentially over the past 18 months and bike couriers from a dozen or so different start-ups can now be seen whizzing through the streets of Amsterdam and other Dutch cities to deliver meals and groceries. But is there really a labour shortage in the Netherlands?

The rise of such delivery services is understandable, of course, due to the accelerated growth of e-commerce as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. But are all these delivery services really necessary? Will they continue to be necessary when the pandemic is finally over? And is this really the best job that all the bike couriers can find: earning a pittance for delivering goods to consumers who could just have easily picked them up themselves?


The future of e-fulfilment and supply chain planning clearly lies in automation. For example, Picnic’s new automated distribution centre in Utrecht enables the online grocery retailer to achieve much higher productivity than manual order picking. Meanwhile, the use of smarter software with machine learning (ML) and other artificial intelligence (AI) can solve the highly publicized shortage of supply chain planners.

According to analyst firm Gartner, the large gap between supply and demand in terms of the necessary skills is a particular problem in supply chain planning. In my opinion, the solution is to let planners experience for themselves how new, smart planning automation software can relieve them of the time-consuming manual work in inefficient spreadsheets. Several start-ups also offer affordable solutions that automate much of the demand planning.

No shortage of workers

In conclusion, the problem is not that there is a shortage of workers in the Netherlands, but that companies are not using the available labour pool effectively! Help employees to realize that automation can make their current tasks obsolete, and then promote them to more challenging roles in which they can add more value for your customers.