Review on ‘Train and Retain International Talent seminar

How to make international people feel more comfortable in the Netherlands?

The ‘Train and Retain International Talent’ seminar took place in the living space environment of The HUB Eindhoven for Expats on Friday, 6th November.

The seminar focussed on recruiting international people and on ways to prepare them for the Dutch society and job market; with the aim that academic institutions and companies could learn from these best practices, and implement some of the ideas within their organisations.

Last week’s seminar started with some up to date statistics. They showed that international talents usually spend only 4-5 years in the Netherlands before returning to their home country. Furthermore, just 10% of the international students who graduate from Dutch Universities choose to stay and work in the Netherlands.

The Dutch economy is aiming to attract more and more people who have international working experience. Since many positions have not been fulfilled in the Netherlands due to the lack of (mainly engineering) workforce. SIETAR Netherlands, the Hub Eindhoven for Expats and TU/e realised the importance of organizing this event by focusing on intercultural communication.

SIETAR, Society of Intercultural Education, Training and Research is an association which shares intercultural research, builds networks with intercultural professionals interested in intercultural collaboration and provides events to support professional development.
The science of intercultural communication and cooperation helps people to ‘develop awareness on cultural aspects and group dynamics to be able to work more successful across cultures’.

At this meeting, professionals such as trainers, tutors and mentors working in a multicultural educational environment were looking for answers for their questions such as: How to make sure that (inter)national talents develop the necessary intercultural competencies to make multiculturalism work?; How to support international students and retain them for the Dutch labour market? and How to handle and inspire members in a multicultural group?

The first two presentations were given by Willem van Hoorn – TU/e HR manager, and Vincent Merk – TU/e lecturer of ‘Intercultural Communication’. They spoke about best practices, strategies of creating the right environment at the university to train and retain international talented people.
As the academic experts highlighted: ‘…more than 1/3rd of our staff is international, which is a quite significant number. So based on the results of our research, we created actions such as buddy program, establishing a Career Center, an Alumni Coach Network and social networking groups for international people….’
The audience was clearly impressed by the presentations about Tu/e’s successful efforts focusing on the international talents’ mental and physical well-being.

After these presentations, 4 parallel workshop sessions were held:
1. Spending time abroad, does it matter with regard to intercultural competence development?
Ursula Brinkmann, the author of ‘Four competencies for working across cultures’ invited the audience for a conversation about what is helping to build the intercultural muscle if time abroad does not?

2. Talent in the new era
Joep Vesters published his book on talent management in which he summarized interviews and practical advices for individuals and companies. During the workshop, he provided an overview of what this new type of talent management entails, what it means for individuals, organizations and how to deal with in a multicultural setting.

3. Training and guiding multicultural student groups Organized by Nicole Kienhuis, who works with multicultural student classes. During this workshop, the group exchanged and generated new ideas from the participants’ experiences. The audience contained mainly lecturers who were teaching students coming all around the world.

Frans Suijkerbuijk owner of EasyNL language school said ‘I would like my international students to stay and enjoy life in the Netherlands so I organize social activities for them outside of the classroom’.

Yvonne Verhoeff owner of ODAT, expert of cross-cultural communication, a member of SIETAR, shared that since she studied cross-cultural communication, teaching is much easier for her. She observes, form and shape of the groups during the lessons and this way she manages cultural diversity within it. She highlighted, that cross-cultural techniques allow you to dive into the basic mind-set of people.

Yvonne van der Pol owner of Luz Azul and member of SIETAR NL said ‘When we understand the dynamics of diverse groups we can not only better deal with the class, prevent unexpected situations, but also make the best out of diversity’. She supports professionals by helping them to connect to people with other cultural backgrounds, performing well in an international work environment, enabling them to manage uncertainty and finally the importance of socialising with people from other cultures.

4. The role of the Hub
One of the establishers of the Hub, Lin Pender organized a welcoming guided tour of the community’s living room environment. Here expats can enjoy a wide range of activities such as Dutch and Spanish classes, but also game nights, yoga sessions and pub crawls. He told the whole story how a former Ford garage became a special, comfortable environment for internationals.

Their cooperation with TU/e and other organizations, together with support from generous local and international volunteers enabled the Hub to become a superb meeting spot for internationals who are looking for social events and the opportunity for integration.

This event was an excellent platform for passionate professionals to share best practices about how to encourage and enable expats to integrate. Next time they look forward to meeting those of you who are working in an international environment in the Netherlands. They will let you know where and when the next meeting is organized.

Eindhoven News writer: Judit Meszaros

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