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Research: how can you get Tech and IT students to commit long-term to Brainport Region?

Each year, thousands of international Tech and IT students graduate from TU/e, Fontys, Tilburg University and Avans. These talented employees are very welcome in the province of Brabant and the Brainport region, and they're in great demand. And yet some of them go back to their home countries after graduating. In 'Talent Journey - Brabant International Students', Brainport Eindhoven researches the motives of these students in returning homewards when they've completed their studies. Brainport hopes that the insights gained will help to retain these future international knowledge workers.

Written by Brainport Eindhoven

22 March 2021

Each year, thousands of international Tech and IT students graduate from TU/e, Fontys, Tilburg University and Avans. These talented employees are very welcome in the province of Brabant and the Brainport region, and they're in great demand. And yet some of them go back to their home countries after graduating. In 'Talent Journey - Brabant International Students', Brainport Eindhoven researches the motives of these students in returning homewards when they've completed their studies. Brainport hopes that the insights gained will help to retain these future international knowledge workers.

Written by Brainport Eindhoven

22 March 2021

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According to Mira Dreessen, project manager of Brabant International Students, the aim of this research was to get insight into the orientation and decision-making process of international students. And in particular, more insight into the international students, in response to the general talent journey of the province of Noord-Brabant in 2019. Dreessen herself is originally from Germany. She chose to move to the Netherlands almost ten years ago because the culture appealed to her. "Why does one student choose to make a career in Brainport while another chooses to return to their native soil? The report resulting from the research describes the moments which play an important part in that decision. The research department held discussions with students and keyed into their subconscious in order to obtain in-depth data. We hope to clarify what we can do as a region to get this target group to commit. It's not only great jobs that are important, a good place to settle and a social network appear to be decisive factors for the students."

Work-life balance

One of the focal points to emerge from the report: put students in touch with industry on time. "So that they can consciously experience whether they like the Dutch way of working", says Dreessen. Because once 'in', it turns out that many students are enthusiastic about the work-life balance in the Brainport region. For example, one former international student, now employee, is quoted in the report as saying: "Dutch working life was a pleasant surprise to me; it's the reason I stayed. Compared to my native country, a lot of attention is paid here to the welfare of employees. In the Netherlands, it's not only about making a profit; pleasure in your work is also important. Not only that, but the pace of work here is comfortable."

Applying for a job in the Netherlands

Apparently, getting in touch with that Dutch professional field is often easier said than done. "We see that many students are suffering from 'the fear of becoming irrelevant'. They want to contribute added value to society. And I believe that the ingredients for that are present here in this region: there is ample scope for making an impact. Making that clear to international students could contribute to their deciding to stay in the Netherlands", Dreessen says. But even if students do come across a job, which isn't easy since they don't have the same support system as some Dutch students, the job interview often forms an obstacle. "They don't always know the form a job interview takes in the Netherlands. And they're unsure of what constitutes a regular salary for their professional field. So there's a real need for mentors from the industry, as this report makes clear", Dreessen explains. "And I believe that alumni could play a major role in this."

Investing in the language

Many foreign alumni only realise in retrospect how important it is to speak the language. During their study programme, they're focusing on obtaining the best possible diplomas, so the social aspect and mastering the language may fall by the wayside. And those are important factors in retaining tomorrow's employees. "The educational institute does offer courses but they often feel like an extra assignment. We need to make it clear that learning Dutch also contributes to the social aspect," says Dreessen. Or as someone says in the report: "I didn't have time to learn Dutch during my study programme and I didn't make a priority of it. Now I realise that mastering the Dutch language is important in finding a job. If I could turn back time, I would spend more time becoming proficient in the language."

Working together

The report contains lots of pointers for getting today's and future students to commit to the Brainport Region. "We have taken on the challenge now, together, as education, industry and BrainportEindhoven. That's how, by joining forces, we can make sure that these talented Tech and IT students will be able to contribute to Brainport in the future too.

Would you like to know more?

If you would like to help make the region more attractive to international students, or if you have any tips, please get in touch with Mira Dreessen at: m.dreessen@brainportdevelopment.nl.

Download the report here