Knowledge migrants essential to Eindhoven economy: mayor

NXP's Eindhoven headquarters. Photo: Michaelkriek via Wikimedia Commons

Measures to reduce the number of highly-skilled migrants coming to the Netherlands and to slash government funding for innovation will damage the attractiveness of the country as a place to do business, according to Eindhoven mayor Jeroen Dijsselbloem.

All four parties involved in the ongoing talks on forming a new government called for a reduction in immigration and both Geert Wilders (PVV) and Pieter Omtzigt (NSC) campaigned expressly for a reduction in the number of so-called knowledge migrants coming to the Netherlands

Dijsselbloem, and Tjark Tjin-A-Tsoi, head of the TNO research institute, told the NRC in an interview that firms in the Eindhoven area are crying out for foreign talent and that they are extremely concerned about talk of a Nexit or a return to Dutch-only university degrees.

The TNO research group has a workforce of some 4,4000 and needs its foreign expertise, Tjin-A-Tsoi said. “Last year we took on 800 new people. In some parts of the organisation, including the high-tech industry, half the workforce is not Dutch.” 

According to Dijsselbloem, some 5,000 international workers move to the region every year.  And this year 1,300 people from 99 different countries took Dutch nationality in Eindhoven the paper said.

The region’s biggest employer ASML has already sounded the alarm about limits on the number of foreign workers, as has employers organisation VNO-NCW.

The economy of the Eindhoven region, Dijsselbloem said, has grown 2.5% this year, while the national economy has stood still. “And that is a bit low for us,” the mayor and head of the Brainport innovation programme said. “For the past 10 years we have grown twice as hard as the national average.”

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