Minister wants more foreigners on the Dutch labour market
NETHERLANDS. Dutch education minister Jet Bussemaker wants more foreign students to choose a career in the Netherlands after their graduation. Dutch language courses, contact with potential employers and more information about working in the Netherlands should win them over, writes the minister in her plan of action Make it in the Netherlands.
Foreign graduates are a benefit to the Dutch economy, they strengthen the international knowledge economy, certainly if they work in the fields of science and technology. Studies apparently show that 70 per cent of all foreign students want to stay in the Netherlands, but eventually only 27 per cent actually does. In order to raise this percentage, Bussemaker wants to strengthen the link with the Netherlands by taking a number of actions. This is not about “binding agreements”, but “a joint effort” of the ministry, student organisations, universities, schools of higher vocational education, Nuffic and employers.
Fluency in Dutch is necessary to gain access to society and the labour market. That is why in spring 2014, a free online language course will be launched, to be expanded gradually. Existing courses will be collected on a digital platform. As of this year, Maastricht University has already been offering free Dutch lessons (in three classroom-based modules) to all first-year students who are interested.
Cultural integration is also very important. At the moment, foreign students often live in their own international bubble and have little contact with their Dutch fellow-students. A buddy programme could help, but student and sports associations and interest groups could also contribute by focusing more on foreign students. There will be a national competition for the best idea on how to strengthen the bond with the Netherlands.
In addition, administrative and practical obstacles that foreign graduates frequently encounter, must be removed. So, always bilingual information and clearer information about such things as residency permits, study grants and registration. Or as the minister put it: give them the red-carpet treatment.
The website www.careerinholland.nl will become (more so than now) a central repository for anything that has to do with careers, such as courses, vacancies, and help setting up your own business. Regional co-operation between schools of higher vocational education and universities on the one hand and businesses on the other, should lead to more traineeships and small jobs for foreign students.