International talent is essential: an open letter to politicians in The Hague

6th March 2023

Companies, governments and knowledge institutions from South Holland are calling on national politicians to keep the Netherlands accessible to international talent. Customization is required per institution due to the differences between cities and educational institutions. This letter advocates ‘tailor-made’ as a starting point, in which the details are left to the institutions themselves.

“The province of South Holland runs on the talent of its inhabitants.” With this, the Economic Board Zuid-Holland (EBZ), the Economic Board The Hague (EBTH) and Economic Development Board Drechtsteden (EDB) open in a joint letter to the Minister of Education, the Minister of Economic Affairs and the members of the House of Representatives (click here for the full letter in Dutch). Attracting and retaining international talent is an important part of South Holland’s Human Capital Agenda.

The reason for the letter is the motion passed by the House of Representatives, asking universities of applied sciences and universities to stop actively recruiting international students. The influx of international students can cause challenges, such as the quality of education or shortages in the housing market. As far as Zuid-Holland is concerned, it is necessary to jointly arrive at a future-proof package of measures that can be deployed locally. There is a need to attract and retain international talent for the earning and innovation capacity of South Holland. Measures that are too generic at national level are detrimental to the socio-economic development of the region. And let’s not forget that the Dutch working population will decline due to demographic circumstances in the coming decades, which means that we are in dire need of international talent.

The adoption of the motion by the House of Representatives leads to insufficient attention being paid to regional needs and the needs of individual educational institutions and municipalities. It reinforces negative sentiment regarding the influx of international students to colleges and universities. EBZ, EBTH and EDB emphasize the importance of a regional dialogue in order to jointly arrive at a good package of measures and to leave the customization to the institutions themselves.

Tim van der Hagen (Rector and Chairman of the Executive Board of TU Delft): “At TU Delft, we believe it is important that universities and universities of applied sciences have instruments at their disposal to manage the intake of students sustainably and effectively, in particular to prevent the intake of non- – EEA students to be able to restrict. The tools are not there now, so customization is essential.”

Martin Van Gogh (Director Batenburg Techniek): “It is necessary for companies to maintain access to all available talent, including international talent.”

The Human Capital Agenda Zuid-Holland focuses on a more resilient labor market in the province. At the end of 2021, the ‘International Talent Program’ project was launched for one of the routes of the agenda ‘attracting and retaining international talent’. The International Talent Program aims to attract and/or retain 500 international employees. Why is this essential? Some numbers from the letter:
– In the technology sector, where there is a significant labor shortage, the retention rate of international talent is high, namely 30-40%
– In other sectors we see that the average retention rate is 25% and that this percentage has growth potential

As a region, we are working hard to ensure that international talent not only come to the Netherlands to study, but that this talent stays here to work, live and contribute to the future of the Netherlands. This not only contributes to labor shortages in specific positions, but also to the international market position of South Holland. Think of organizations that are internationally oriented, but also of the innovative power of our country.