“Knowledge sharing is in our DNA. This is how we captivate and bind talents”

News | March 9, 2020

How do we retain technical talent for the Northern Netherlands?

Together with Groningen Engineering Business Center (GEBC) of the University of Groningen we answer this question. We would do this in a workshop on Monday 16 March during the Conference Netherlands Digital 2020 in Groningen. The conference is cancelled due to measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. However, we don't want to keep the story from anyone. Read here how knowledge sharing is in our DNA.

Those who complete a technical study have a choice. Companies, governments, healthcare institutions, they all compete for the best technical talent. Not only nationally, but also internationally. According to Joost Krebbekx, program manager of Innovatiecluster Drachten, it is no longer a matter of course for those who graduate in the north of the Netherlands to stay in the north. “Every engineer, IT person, operator or technical designer can choose from countless vacancies at attractive companies. It is therefore increasingly difficult for our companies to fill vacancies.” The northern high-tech companies compete with the regions of Twente, Delft and Eindhoven. In order to 'be in the picture' of the students, they have set up a joint program. “We allow technical talents to come into contact with our companies during their studies. This way they can see what we have to offer and what the Northern Netherlands has to offer to interesting companies and jobs. Moreover, we cooperate in this way to keep technical talent for our region and thus prevent a knowledge drain.”

Sharing knowledge

This program consists of two parts. Students become acquainted with the companies through so-called high-tech safaris and the high-tech companies set up special education programs in close collaboration with universities, colleges and regional training centers. Krebbekx explains. “Sharing knowledge is in our DNA and is the starting point of our collaboration. So it's only logical that we like to do the same with students, in order to captivate and ultimately bind them.” During a safari, students spend a day visiting a number of high-tech companies for a substantive program. The business cluster organizes this together with study associations from Eindhoven, Delft, Twente and Groningen. But for the past two years, a safari has also been part of the Applied Physics and Mathematics studies at the University of Groningen. ,,For the Technology & Ethics classes, we organize special routes along our companies with assignments tailored to the teaching material. I give an example. Photonis in Roden makes nightvision equipment for defense purposes. With self-prepared statements, the students discuss with each other and employees of the company about the use of high-tech knowledge for peace or combat purposes. Afterwards, the students are introduced to the impressive possibilities of the nightvision equipment. In addition to the substantive challenge, the students immediately get an idea of the opportunities and possibilities of working at this company."

Education programs

The second pillar for retaining technical talent for the region and the high-tech companies revolves around substantive education programmes. These are set up by the high-tech companies together with the regional educational institutions. For example, the master track Mechanical Engineering Smart Factories in collaboration with the University of Groningen. ,,This master's track will start this fall in our own Smart Industry Fieldlab in Drachten. And we are quite proud of that. The master's program in Mechanical Engineering falls under the Faculty of Science and Engineering and offers Advanced Instrumentation and Smart Factories. This is now being expanded to include Process Design for Energy Systems and Materials for Mechanical Engineering. Smart Factories students follow their second year of study in the Smart Industry Field Lab with lectures and research. In this way we train technical talents to design intelligent, coherent and tailor-made production processes for the factory of the future. And because the students get to know our companies, they have a much better idea of interesting jobs in the North.”

Conference Netherlands Digital 2020

The second edition of the annual Netherlands Digital Conference has been canceled and was scheduled to take place from 16 to 19 March 2020 in Groningen. The government, entrepreneurs, researchers, civil society organizations and other governments will work together at the conference on the objective of making the Netherlands a digital frontrunner in Europe. Also part of the conference is the two-day scientific conference ICT.OPEN. During the conference, the results of a year of digitization would be shown on the basis of the Dutch Digitization Strategy 2.0.