Study: staying in The Netherlands after graduation

How can we motivate international tech and IT students to commit to a career in the Netherlands after they complete their studies at Avans, Fontys, TU/e or Tilburg University? Brainport Eindhoven has conducted a study to gain more insight into international students’ decision-making process when it comes to staying in the Netherlands after graduation. The results could help retain these future international knowledge workers for the Dutch labour market.

Brainport Eindhoven is an umbrella organisation consisting of 21 municipalities and a large number of campuses, field labs and innovation hubs. Avans’ involvement in Brainport is twofold: we focus on attracting international talent for our technical programmes by promoting educational opportunities in Noord-Brabant, together with Fontys, Tilburg University and TU/e.

Welcome addition

Avans would also like to retain these talented students after they have graduated. Given the substantial demand for highly educated technical personnel in the region, international alumni are a welcome addition to the local labour market. In order to better prepare international students for a career in Noord-Brabant, Brainport recently commissioned a study entitled Talent Journey: Brabant International Students.

The aim of this study was to get a better sense of international students’ needs – which factors play a role in their decision-making process when it comes to pursuing a career in the Brainport region? What kind of information could persuade them to stay in the Netherlands? The study surveyed both current students and alumni of the relevant educational institutions.

Professional field

The professional field was also closely involved in the study. We hope that the results will help us to better meet international students’ needs and encourage them to pursue a career in the Brainport region. On behalf of Avans, Shen Li and Noortje de Kort from DMCS are part of the working groups of the Brainport Brabant International Students project.

The aim of the Talent Journey study was to gain insight into the orientation and decision-making process of international students, says project manager Mira Dreessen. "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 key takeaways from the study is that students should be put in touch with local industry on time. "So that they can consciously experience whether they like the Dutch way of working", says Dreessen. Because once they have had their first experience of working life in the Netherlands, many international students are enthusiastic about the work-life balance in the Brainport area. As one former international student who chose to stay in the region after graduation says in the study: "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."

The study also highlights the doubts some students have about the extent to which they can remain of added value in their profession in the Brainport region. The prospect of job interviews in Dutch is also a barrier for some. The working group is now jointly examining how the region’s educational institutions can harness these insights. By pointing students to appealing local career opportunities well before they graduate, they can make a better-informed decision. Hopefully, this will encourage them to look for a job in the Brainport region so their talent can be of added value to local industry.

Read more about the Talent Journey: Brabant International Students on Brainport Eindhoven’s website.