The war for talent is on in the Netherlands and international companies are hunting for highly-skilled, well-travelled employees.
Like many expats, Phil Mander came to the Netherlands for a fantastic job opportunity and stayed for the quality of life
‘I moved to Amsterdam from London six years ago and haven’t looked back. In that time, I’ve bought an apartment here, started a family and began working freelance. Amsterdam has one of the best tech scenes in Europe and as a web developer it’s a great place to work,’ says Mander, a tech specialist at Versatile.nl.
In its most recent Index of Globalisation the KOF Swiss Economic Institute places the Netherlands right at the top; the most globalised country in the world. It makes sense of course. Holland’s key location within Europe has given The Netherlands a rich history of international trading.
Combine this with a winning attitude to inclusion and multiculturalism; its topping UNICEF’s recent report into child happiness; and a culture that values work-life balance, then it’s easy to see why the Netherlands makes an attractive destination for people from all over the world to come and settle.
And, of course, globalised countries need a globalised workforce. The European Commission, in its last look at labour needs, was only too aware of the challenges to economic sustainability from changing demographics across the union.
Increased life spans have kept the ‘baby-boomer’ generation working for longer but now they are reaching retirement en masse. Youth unemployment, the increasing trend towards technological automation and international student mobility are all combining to create a very different workplace and workforce.
Some specialisations, such as healthcare, I.T. (especially in fields like Artificial Intelligence and Big Data), and engineering are in dire need of fresh blood. So much so that other European neighbours have taken radical steps to attract new talent: a few years ago the German unemployment office opened a branch in Madrid hoping to help fill their need for some 30,000 engineers over the next 10 years.
So, the many international companies that have either sprung from Dutch entrepreneurial talent, or who have chosen to make the Netherlands their European base, are constantly on the lookout for new, highly skilled, well travelled employees. Those who boast good educational credentials, have insights into the cultures of partner countries or who speak multiple languages are in with an excellent chance. They’re also looking for innovative ways to attract and keep the best talent they can find.
Explosion of services
In Dutch business centres such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and now Eindhoven with its ‘Brainport’ region, there has been an explosion of services and events geared specifically towards expats. Think expat oriented real estate agents, companies that help you make the move from one country to the other, and events focused on internationals like the Expatica ‘i am not a tourist’ Job Fair for Internationals. All of them are seeking to make the daunting concept of immigration look attractive and manageable.
‘I came to The Netherlands for love not work, but soon started working as a freelancer. Big events like the “i am not a tourist” Expat Fairs were a really useful way to make lots of contacts in one go and find out about groups that I hadn’t considered looking up,’ says freelance writer Sarah Edwards.
The success of Expatica’s ‘i am not a tourist’ Expat Fairs in the past led them to set up a separate event dedicated specifically to the job hunting part of immigrating to the Netherlands. A Job Fair may not seem like an innovation in recruitment but with digital enhancements it seeks to make the process of matching up the best talent and the best vacancies as easy as possible; for both those looking for work and those looking to hire.
‘It’s still really important to be able to look people in the eye, to shake their hand,’ said Tom Bey, one of the organisers of the event. ‘But we’ve also added tools to make the networking and matchmaking as effortless as possible. Candidates can upload their CV and create a web based personal profile page specific to the event; then share this with those recruiting simply by having their badge scanned. Companies can seek real candidates for real positions.’
Such an event allows big companies like Booking.com, Atlassian, Murata and Mercedes Benz to meet multiple prospects in a single day. Job hunters can apply to a wide variety of companies and recruiters in one fell swoop, making for an efficient and more interesting way to find that ‘golden opportunity’ or build a useful network of contacts. It’s a ‘buyer’s market’ for highly skilled workers.
Expatica are expanding these events rapidly. The Job Fair for Internationals will take place at the World Trade Centre, Amsterdam on Sat 20th May, and will be followed swiftly by the’ I am not a tourist’ Expat Fair in Eindhoven on 11th June and then the annual Expat Fair at the Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam, on 8th October. All of them will be information laden, with presentations and exhibitors geared to helping new arrivals find what they need in terms of education, family care and help with health or housing.
Of the 17 million inhabitants of the Netherlands right now, nearly a quarter come from outside the country and recent polls have shown that four out of five workers in the Netherlands are happy with their job. Plus, there’s 13 of the top 200 universities in the world, good attitudes to gender parity, and English is the go-to second language. The pull factors for international workers are clear: the lowlands offers brilliant opportunities for those looking for a taste of the high life.
For more information and tickets for the Job Fair for Internationals go to: http://www.jobfairforinternationals.nl/