While many Dutch SME’s still underestimate the value international employees can add to their business, this is changing rapidly.
So says Michaël van Straalen, the chairman of MKB Nederland which is the largest entrepreneurs’ organization in the Netherlands. He was the keynote speaker at the 3rd consultation meeting about the strategic agenda of EP-Nuffic, the organization promoting Dutch education abroad.
According to Van Straalen although more needs to change, SME’s are orientating themselves more internationally and at a rapid pace. MKB promotes the interest of about 120 000 entrepreneurs across the country and some 120 branch organisations and 250 regional and local entrepreneurs’ fellowships are affiliated to this umbrella organisation.
During the plenary sessions of the meeting participants discussed the role of EP-Nuffic in committing education and businesses to the cause of internationalization. Getting various ministries on board who has a stake in the matter, is seen as an important step in the right direction. Van Straalen proposed that his organization work together with EP-Nuffic towards this goal. His suggestion was welcomed by EP-Nuffic director, Freddy Weima.
An international report comparing the stay-rate of foreign students after graduation, recently criticized the Netherlands for its legal barriers that deter companies, especially small businesses, from hiring international students.
“Small businesses hardly hire international students, partly because of the substantial processing fees collected by Dutch immigration authorities,” reads the report by Research Unit of The Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration who did a survey at the end of 2014.
It acknowledges that there is a growing number of employers in all 4 countries who consider recruiting skilled workers from abroad, but in reality only a handful have actually started to reach beyond national borders. “Most organisations lack the financial means, professional networks and language skills necessary to attract foreign talent. Consequently, small and medium-sized businesses report a strong preference for domestic recruitment while failing to notice the potential of international students who train right on their doorstep.”
According to the report international students are increasingly regarded as the “ideal” or “designer” immigrants for the labour markets in their host countries and presumed to mitigate future talent shortages. In the Netherlands there has been a 35% increase in international students from 2009 – 2013, while in Canada and Germany rates have almost doubled.
Given these developments many countries, including the Netherlands, have in recent years passed legislation to improve post-study work options. However, despite reforms and a high willingness to stay on the part of students, many still struggle to find employment.
by Anesca Smith