Updated 7 months ago

Rotterdam has always been a scrappy city – the landscape and the economy are all about change. What is constant, though, is the fact that the port of Rotterdam is one of the biggest in the world, and that shipping and the water have been and continue to be the backbone of this economic powerhouse. As a result, expats looking for a job in Rotterdam shouldn't have to look to far if they are involved in the shipping and trade industries.

Strongest sectors

The port of Rotterdam employs about 175,000 people, and it is expected to add another 10,000 jobs by 2030. Working in Rotterdam’s port isn’t just for hauling heavy things with big machines anymore – with the increasing automation and use of robots to handle containers and check contents, the very nature of the work may not be what you’d expect.

Rotterdam is also the site of several major energy companies. At present, these are mainly fossil fuel companies, but solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources will likely increase with the European commitment to the Paris Treaty. One of the major projects that will be underway soon is the conversion of Rotterdam’s port to renewable energy sources.  

Chemicals and food are also strong sectors in Rotterdam’s economy. Thanks to its location, the petrochemical industry (refineries, etc) have easy access to raw materials, and companies can ship them all over Europe from Rotterdam. As for food, the Netherlands, despite its small size, actually exports numerous fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes and bell peppers. The Netherlands, being so flat, is ideal for farming and with the three rivers running through it, transporting goods is simple and cheap.  

Logistics comprises another major sector in Rotterdam; as you might imagine with so much shipping and so many goods going back and forth, keeping track of what goes where is a necessity. Thanks to the extensive infrastructure in the city as well as throughout the rest of the Netherlands, there are numerous transportation options available.  

Finding employment in Rotterdam

Despite the numerous industries concentrated around Rotterdam, unemployment in the city remains high, at around 11%. Part of the problem is that, in order to work in the industries, one needs experience, and young people are not receiving the experience they need. There is a larger percentage of people without higher education in Rotterdam than elsewhere; this leaves them highly susceptible to losing jobs to automation.

Finding employment in Rotterdam is hard if you do not speak Dutch; if you speak Dutch in addition to other languages, though, you will find it substantially easier to find work. Although it is a port city, Rotterdam receives only a tenth of the tourists as Amsterdam does, so the service industry is not as well-developed for English-speakers as it is elsewhere. 

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