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We are growing older; in 2000, a newborn child in the Netherlands was expected to live 76 years. In 2013, the expectancy is nearly 80. We are having fewer children: In 2035, there will be one retiree for every two working adults in the Netherlands, compared to one retiree for every three working adults at present. These are well-known statistics, but the opportunities and challenges that these figures entail for the Dutch business community are perhaps less well known.
Demographic and social changes present companies in the Netherlands with opportunities and challenges in three areas: customers, employees and international growth opportunities.
Customer demand is changing: older target groups spend their money differently than younger ones and must be approached in a different way. Marketing departments are going to have to focus even more on the demographic changes to their customer base than they already are. Boards of directors will have to examine their business strategies under a new light in order to make their companies resilient enough to keep up with social changes.
The labour market is transforming; women and older employees will constitute an increasingly larger segment of the workforce. Successful companies will be able to attract this talent and deploy it in their organisations to the greatest effect. It is accordingly essential to examine HR planning in a strategic manner and to appropriately implement these people in staffing.
There are opportunities for growth in young, emerging countries; the world will have a billion more people in 2025. This growth is shifting from Europe and East Asia to Africa and India. The population increase in these regions offers an outstanding chance for the Dutch business community to return to growth by providing world-leading knowledge in such sectors as water, gas, agrifood and IT in order to solve problems with which these countries are struggling.