Visit to the IAMEXPAT fair in Amsterdam

On Saturday, March 7th, co-founders of the Expat Spouses Initiative Ioana Iliescu-Jack and Anne Theiss visited the IAMEXPAT fair in Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek to collect information and inspiration on how to improve the lives of internationals in Eindhoven.

The expectations were high, as the fair is the first of its kind in the Netherlands: bringing together businesses and services that are intended to create an ecosystem for expats. A total of 69 expat-friendly businesses and organisations presented their services at the main fair. Services ranging from education, housing and banking to weekly fresh vegetables, cosmetics and balloon rides.

In addition to the main event, several workshops and presentations were held on advertising support for job search, language courses, the tax system, various financial advice, child care, residence permits for start-ups and additional education programs to name a few.

Charalampos Sergios, Head of Exhibition, asks internationals who are visiting the fair to "[…] share your perspective with these businesses to help them tailor their offerings to better suit the requirements of expats, now and in the future."

Expats, were provided with an opportunity to learn about existing services, while local businesses and organisations had a chance to test if the services they created for internationals do actually address their needs. Whether you wished to have an overview of existing services, or had specific questions or you wanted answers or an appointment with them, the fair was a good place to start.

The amount of internationals in the Netherlands will increase continuously, as the economy is, to an extent, dependent on the influx and retention of highly-skilled migrants. The demand from companies is growing continuously, and local graduates are not nearly enough to cover it. Eberhard van der Laan, Mayor of Amsterdam and Chairman Amsterdam Economic Board is quoted in the IAMEXPAT fair brochure: "We need international talent to build bridges with worldwide economies, to become more innovative and more productive…"

This statement can easily be applied to other regional economies. Today there are 70.000 international knowledge workers in Noord-Brabant and Limburg, three times more than in 2007, more than 35.000 only in the Eindhoven Region. Connecting more businesses and organisations within Eindhoven, which are focussed on global citizens with local needs and building a solid infrastructure for an expat ecosystem will make it easier for internationals to integrate into the local life.

Anne Theiss

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