MAASTRICHT. Anyone who wants to work in the Netherlands - even if it is with an international company or institute - would do well to also learn the Dutch language. This is one of the outcomes of a study carried by Unipartners on behalf of the UM’s Language Centre.
How important is it that job applicants speak one or more foreign languages? Researchers asked sixty employers in the Netherlands in the fields of health care, finance, business services, production, higher education, consultancy, government and legal services. Many of them operate internationally.
For more than half of the companies (60 per cent), knowledge of languages plays a part during their selection of young academics. Although there are great differences between the sectors. In the medical sector a quarter does so, whereas in the production and services sectors (such as manufacturers of electronics, food industry, energy producers) 90 per cent of the employers takes this into consideration. What is remarkable, is the fact that for 79 per cent of the companies, knowledge of Dutch is a requirement. This means that foreign students aspiring to a career in the Netherlands cannot ignore the Dutch language.
Ingrid Wijk, director of the University Library, which also includes the UM Language Centre: “We have noticed that many foreign students like to learn Dutch. Twelve hundred of them took a course at the Language Centre last year, ranging from basic to very advanced.”
Almost half of the respondents of the survey require new employees to have a command of both Dutch and English. For only 10 per cent, it is sufficient if young academics can communicate only in English. A handful (5 per cent) feels that it is also important for job applicants to be able to also express themselves in German or French. In general, employees with a larger international focus demand more knowledge of languages. An official diploma or certificate in this field was not so important in their eyes.
The results of the survey will be used for the review of the UM’s language policy.