Project Connect matches international UT graduates with companies in Twente

| Mariska Roersen

By providing workshops on the Dutch language and culture, trainings on how to do job interviews and a CV-check, co-workers of the Connect project assist foreign UT and Saxion students in their quest in finding a first job in The Netherlands. UT-employee and project coordinator Henk Brouwer explains.

Photo by: Arjan Reef

What is Connect?

´A joint programme of Saxion and the UT to help international recent graduates in finding a job in The Netherlands, and then especially in the Eastern part of the country. The project exists three years now and will run until 2015. It is financed with subsidies from the provinces Overijssel and Gelderland and with money from the Ministry of Economic Affairs.´

Why was this project started?

´The thought behind this project is that there is a shortage of high quality knowledge in the Eastern part of the Netherlands. By connecting foreign highly educated people to the labour market in Twente, we contribute to decrease this shortage. Their residence is usually relatively simple to arrange. This is because international students are entitled for a ´search year´ after they graduate. They can stay for a year to gain work experience. After that it is also relatively easy to receive a residence status as knowledge migrant.´

Given the crisis on the labour market, competition is intense. How fair is it to help foreign and no Dutch students?

´Connect mainly focuses on the technology sector, a sector which still has a deficit in highly educated personnel. It is especially about the hard technological professions. The project aims at students with a beta profile. For instance, if someone just finished the study electrical engineering, it is very well possible to match him or her with a company. Next to that, there are good options for international business administration graduates.´

Who use it and why?

´If you look at Europe, they are mainly students from Southern-Europe, Italy and Greece. Outside Europe, you should think of youth from South-Eastern Asia, India and Pakistan. They believe that The Netherlands are very attractive to build a future.´

How does industry respond?

´Surprising. Especially international companies are on the lookout for highly educated international talent, but also Dutch companies that want to enter foreign markets. Then a perfect match is made in no time.’

When is the project successful?

´When we matched ninety international graduates with a position in industry. At the moment, we are quite on schedule with 36 placements. We notice that, given the economic crisis, companies are a bit more reserved in attracting new employees.´

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