Model developed to monitor sustainable employability

Keeping people in employment until retirement age is becoming increasingly important in the Netherlands, as it is in the rest of Europe. A model has been developed for ‘sustainable employability’, and a first measurement created using the Netherlands Working Conditions Survey 2010 and Netherlands Employer Working Survey 2010. Sustainable employability profiles can be identified for several sub-groups, and some conclusions are summarised in this Information Update.


Sustainable employability can be characterised as the capability of employees to participate in a healthy, vital and productive way in paid work until they are eligible for a pension. The productivity and sustainable employability of the Dutch workforce is vital for the economy, now and in the future. Its enhancement is a priority for government policy.

A model to monitor sustainable employment

A project led by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), described in a TNO report entitled Monitor of Sustainable Employability – results and methodology 2010, is the Dashboard for Sustainable Employability which sheds light on how the sustainable employability (SE) of employees and the sustainability of employers’ employment policies can be measured. The dashboard uses monitoring information from both employees and employers and is based on a model that describes the elements of sustainable employability (Figure 1). Twenty indicators have been identified by which this complex concept is measured, based both on determinant and effect indicators of sustainable employability.

Figure 1: Model for monitoring sustainable employability for policy purposes



The figures underlying the dashboard are derived from the large-scale Netherlands Working Conditions Survey (NWCS) 2011, a yearly survey of a representative sample of about 23.000 employees in the Netherlands, and the Netherlands Employer Work Survey (NEWS) 2010. Sustainable employment (SE) profiles, like the one in Figure 2, are based on this dashboard. They allow comparisons of employees from groups regarded as vulnerable because of the level of their educational attainment, age, or because they have a work handicap of some kind, with other employees. They also allow for comparisons between sectors.

Figure 2 presents, as an example, the SE profile of workers with lower educational attainment based on NWCS statistics, combined with the profile of organisations with relatively high numbers of less well-educated workers, based on NEWS statistics.

Figure 2: SE profile of employees with lower educational attainment compared with all employees


The differences are in percentage points; a pale coloured bar indicates a significant difference, while a dark coloured bar indicates a significant and relevant difference.

Key findings

The main findings of the research show that:

  • employees with lower educational attainment, older employees and employees with a work handicap are characterised by a less favourable SE-profile;
  • employees over the age of 60 rate more positively on the effect indicators, showing ability and willingness to stay in work longer up to the age of 65;
  • employees with a work handicap are less likely to be able to stay in work until 65, and show a less favourable current employability and less favourable work characteristics.
  • the SE profiles of the hotel and restaurant sector, and the health and social work activities sector are relatively unfavourable, whereas the financial and business services sector rate rather more favourably;
  • efforts by employers to take measures to encourage employees continue to work longer are low in most sectors and especially in smaller organisations.


The Dashboard of Sustainable Employability and its 2010 results have been presented and discussed among a broad group of policymakers at the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. The results were considered quite useful as a starting point for sustainable employability monitoring in 2010. These indicators will probably continue to be used by the ministry in order to monitor sustainable employability in the years to come.


Koppes, L., Vroome, E. De, Mol, M., Janssen B. and Bossche S. van den (2011), Nationale Enquête Arbeidsomstandigheden 2010: Methodologie en globale resultaten, [National Working Conditions Survey (NWCS) 2010: Methodology and overall results], Hoofddorp, TNO.

Kraan, K., Wevers, C., Geuskens, G. and Sanders, J. (2011), Monitor Duurzame Inzetbaarheid – Technische Verantwoording en Resu ltaten 2010 en Methodologie [Monitor of Sustainable Employability – results and methodology 2010], TNO, Hoofdorp, available to download at

Oeij, P., Vroome, E. de, Kraan, K., Bossche, S. van den and Goudswaard, A. (2011), Werkgevers Enquête Arbeid (WEA) 2010: Methodologie en beschrijvende resultaten [National Employers Working Conditions Survey (NEWS) 2010: Methodology and descriptive results], TNO, Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment, Hoofddorp, The Hague.

Karolus Kraan & Cees Wevers, TNO

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