International students who have completed their studies often want to continue working in the Netherlands, but nevertheless usually leave for somewhere else. With the 'Connect' project, the University of Twente and Saxion have already been working together for the past three years in order to retain international students and assist them to find their first job in the Netherlands. Connect recently received the sum of 30,000 euros from the Netherlands Enterprise Agency to develop further initiatives in the region.
"There is no better moment to take over from Gaston Sporre", says Harry Weber, former director of engineering and consulting agency Witteveen+Bos and now the new chair of Connect. As chair of the Chamber of Commerce Oost Nederland, Gaston Sporre was closely involved with Connect. "With their knowledge of their country of origin, international students make a major contribution to companies with international trade relations. It is very special that educational institutions like Saxion and UT facilitate this", says Sporre. "International education and international graduates contribute to the international and innovative competitiveness of a region. Many companies in our region benefit from this", says Webers.
The background of Connect lies in the wish of Saxion and the UT to offer career services to international graduates at the end of their studies, as well as the desire to draw companies' attention to a rich variegated supply of so much international talent in the vicinity. The background is the increasing need for high-quality knowledge that is introduced from abroad. In particular, there is considerable demand from the business community for highly qualified science students, including students of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, ICT and Chemical Engineering. In addition, International Business is also very much in demand, especially from companies that do business with companies in emerging economies such as China and Vietnam.
Stimulus for the economy
Every year, Connect selects thirty international graduates from the UT and Saxion. With a workshop programme, they are prepared for the Dutch labour market and at the same time follow a traineeship with a company. The entire process takes place within a year, which corresponds with the residence permit search year extension. "At Witteveen+Bos, we have, via Connect, made use of an Indonesian trainee who is going to work for us in Indonesia after completion of the traineeship", says Harry Weber. Connect can also lower the threshold for international students to come and study in the east of the Netherlands, because Connect also offers a perspective for after your graduation. Mediation has already been provided for no less than sixty people. They have successfully found jobs at companies such as Siemens, Randstad Holding, Vitens, Opra, Twentebelt, Nefit-Bosch, Service2Media and Pentair.
Motivating and binding
With the Action Plan 'Make it in the Netherlands', the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science also considers it important to keep international students in the Netherlands and calls upon educational institutions to take the lead with motivating and retaining international graduates. In this context, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency has awarded a financial contribution of 30,000 euros to three regions. On the basis of close cooperation between education and business community, our region succeeded in positioning itself as one of the three beneficiary regions. With this helping hand, Connect is even better able to motivate and bind international graduates by offering work placement experience in cooperation with entrepreneurs in addition to the already existing traineeship programme.