Why talent leaves Twente

| Michaela Nesvarova

The University Innovation Fellows (UIF) of the UT have initiated the project ‘Keep Talent in Twente’ and a six months long research into why talented people leave the region. They just presented the results which indicate that one of the main reasons for graduates to move is the lack of diversity in Twente.

Photo by: Rikkert Harink

The University Innovation Fellows of the University of Twente have been working together with the Municipality Enschede and Novel-T, aiming to find out why many young talents leave Twente and how it could be prevented. ‘There has been a brain drain of talent,’ says UT student Sevim Aktas (UIF). ‘We educate students to the fullest but they choose to leave after graduation, even though local companies badly want them to stay.’

To learn why this happens, a survey was distributed among students from all educational institutes in Twente. On Saturday, the results of this research were presented to ‘Twente Top’, a group of leading CEO’s of Twente-based companies, as well as representatives of national and local government and educational institutions. What were the main conclusions?


Details of research ‘Keeping Talent in Twente’ conducted by University Innovation Fellows Twente, Municipality Enschede and Novel-T

Lack of information

Participants of the survey expressed that they would be willing to stay in Twente if they thought they could get a job here. ‘Although there are many job offers, people don’t know about them,’ says Titus Venverloo (ATLAS student, UIF). ‘In the survey we asked people to name any three companies in Twente. 35% of them had absolutely no idea. That is a big signal and it shows that it’s not a question whether it’s here, but whether students see it. We even got requests for local “bedrijvendagen” for small local businesses.’

It’s not about money

‘The research shows that salary is less important to the new generation,’ says Rogier Ikink from Novel-T. ‘What they are looking for is a friendly working environment where they can make an impact. They are actually mostly interested in small-scale companies and start-ups.’

More diversity

‘Lack of diversity was something mentioned very often by the respondents,’ continues Venverloo. ‘The university is seen as international and welcoming, but the region isn’t. It’s considered too mainstream and disconnected from the UT - and from the rest of the world for that matter. These concerns were also raised by many Dutch respondents.’

‘Students are screaming for more diversity,’ adds Aktas. ‘This shows that the region needs to focus not only on jobs, but also on providing a good life here, on creating a diverse culture. We are not only working, we are also living here.’

Other findings

Moreover, the survey participants mentioned the language barrier, the lack of sustainability and long travelling times as reasons for leaving Twente. The outcomes were also supported by an Alumni research conducted by the Municipality Enschede in 2016. You can find detailed results of the ‘Keeping Talent in Twente’ research here.

Join forces

What is the next step, now when we have a better insight into why many young people choose not to stay in Twente? ‘We want to tackle the issue collectively,’ says Aktas. ‘Our results were very well received and we are already in touch with several companies in order to help them think of specific strategies. We will also sit together with the province of Overijssel. We certainly think all stakeholders in Twente should join forces. Our main recommendation would be: “Stop talking about the talents and start talking with the talents.”’

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