Industry summit in the Northern Netherlands: ,,Top talent: use it or lose it!''

News | October 19, 2017

Kor Visscher speaks about the human capital agenda during the Northern Netherlands Industry Summit

Creating an attractive climate where people can enjoy working, living and studying is more important than before for our region. The more than 40 representatives of the Northern industry agree on this. "But if we don't know each other, it won't work," concludes initiator and host of industry top Klaas Jan Hutten of ING† ,,Our role is to connect companies and I sense the ambition and the will to achieve something together.'' Hutten observes all kinds of connections and forms of cooperation in the Northern Netherlands. "But nobody knows where to find each other."

Industrial frontrunners

The industry leaders are prepared for that. The top men and six industrial leaders meet at six Round Tables. Johan Russian (Avebe) talks about the opportunities of the energy transition for the Northern Netherlands. At the table of Mischa Baert (Breeder) is about Smart Industry. Christel Werkman (Workman Horseshoes) shares her ideas on how a traditional company can be innovative. Alex van Dalen (Legs Automation) states that without smart sensors there is no big data and Theun Prins (YP Your Partner) shows how augmented reality is changing the manufacturing industry. Kor Visscher, chairman Innovatiecluster Drachten and director at Philips in Drachten, puts the urgent question on the table at his Round Table on regional cooperation and branding: how do I keep my staff up to date and how do I attract new talent?

Human capital

He has no solution, but Visscher does make a pass. “With our high-tech companies, we emphatically stimulate Northern cooperation between the business community and knowledge institutions. We do this mainly in the field of High Tech Systems & Materials, but this is of course also possible in other sectors.” Attracting highly trained personnel for the region and the exchange of knowledge and experience are concrete goals, according to Visscher. This has to be done with more urgency than a few years ago. The ambition of companies should therefore be aimed at more operational cooperation on three aspects. “First of all, human capital, activities aimed at attracting and retaining personnel at all levels of education. Just say 'fascinate and bind' staff. Regional promotion is also important with activities aimed at strengthening the image of our region. In our case technical and innovative. And finally, knowledge exchange and networking between the personnel of companies and knowledge institutions.”

Tech proof

This is music to the ears of main speaker Ineke Dezentjé Hamming-Bluemink. She is president of FME, the entrepreneurs' organization for the technology industry and believes that the lack of skilled workers should not stand in the way of economic growth. ,,That can not be true! That is why we have to make the Netherlands 'tech-proof'." “The tech industry offers fantastic solutions for major social issues. Think of care, food (scarcity) and energy. Moreover, we are in the middle of the transition from a natural gas economy to a green hydrogen economy, in which technology plays a key role." That is why she presents the industry top with the unfortunate choice: "Do you keep muddling through here or do you move to a country where R&D managers from the rolling on an assembly line?” According to her, the North should even become a paradise for expats. “Business and education must become entwined, whereby education must come up with solutions and not get on the defensive. We have to add gas because the industry cannot do it alone. If we do nothing, the shortage of technicians will increase by 20 thousand per year. So 8 out of 10 students have to choose technology. That is our ambition!"

Top talent

There is not a word of Spanish here and Lambert Zwiers thinks the same. He sees shortages of well-trained personnel in all sectors. “It is a major challenge for all of us to get employees involved in all developments. After all, staff is becoming increasingly scarce. That is why we are bringing parties together here today to really work on collaboration.” He thinks it is important to inspire, “but we also want to put some bread on the table. So results count.” According to him, the top executives can get to work immediately by looking for solutions within their own company. “Remember that you already have the best capital and ask yourself: am I making optimal use of our existing employees? Top talent: use it or lose it!"


Photos: JAV Studios Assen