Ex-cons 3 times more likely to get a job than applicants with Arabic names

28th Jul 2017

Elham Asaad Buaras

A new report has found that job applicants with violent criminal records are 3.5 times more likely to be employed than those with Arabic names in the Netherlands.

Researchers sent out 520 applications for a 20-year-old male for low-skilled work in the construction, technical and logistics sector, the Volkskrant reports. The profiles were submitted with a mix of ‘obviously Dutch’ and ‘Arabic-sounding’ surnames and various degrees of criminal record, from a clean slate to sexual offences.

32% of applications that used a Dutch surname and no criminal record were successful, compared to just 9% of similar applications in a foreign name. The proportion was roughly similar for those with criminal records.

Applicants with a violent past and a Dutch name stood a better chance than those with an Arabic name but no history of violence. “I don’t want to generalise because it’s a sample that we took in 2013, but it’s certainly alarming,” said Chantal van den Berg.

Labour market economist Dr Stijn Baert of the University of Ghent, said the findings supported earlier research in Flanders that indicated employers were more likely to dismiss applications from people with a minority ethnic background or a disability than those with violent convictions.

He said anonymous applications would be a step in the right direction, but cautioned that the measure might be less effective in stamping out discrimination than its supporters believe. “At the second stage you’re no longer anonymous and at the first stage it rules out the possibility of positive discrimination.”

Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, Lodewijk Asscher, called the findings “utterly disgusting”, adding “You must judge all people on what they can do and not on their origin.”

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