The Brainport region growing currently at 4.6% is a true sign of development and economic growth of the region. Together with the native competence, the international talents in the region play a significant role in the economic prosperity. To continue the momentum, the Brainport Region concentrates on both attracting and retaining the expats. So a project called ‘Living In’ was created to synchronise energy on retaining the international workforce within the Brainport region. Thus to enable a prosperous business climate.
Living In Program
The municipal government of Eindhoven initiated the Living In Program in 2016. A steering committee which consists of an umbrella of 10 organisations is responsible for the Living In Program. Recommendations from a research by the Fontys University forms the basis of the Living In Program. The research takes into account the challenges and uncertainties that international families face when moving to a new country.
Ed Heerschap, Coordinator of Living In, enriched with experience in project management and events, uses his expertise and network to greater advantage in his current role. Moreover, he adds that his earlier experience of living in a foreign country makes him understand the internationals much better.
Eindhoven News met with Ed Heerschap for a dialogue.
Q: What do you think is the most important aspect of the Living In program?
“You don’t have the chance to make a first impression for the next time”. We emphasise on creating opportunities for newcomers to meet up with fellow newcomers and locals. The Holland Expat Center South organises a lot of events in order to make people feel at home or land more easily. Internationals show much interest in the meet and greet events, welcome evenings at The Hub and events where the Dutch environment and procedures are explained. Retention of talent is also explaining internationals how to buy a house in The Netherlands.”
Q: What are the other areas of focus in your role?
“If you move to this region, you also want to make effective use of the facilities. That is why the Living In Program also focuses on culture, sports, childcare and many other facilities. How can we be more hospitable towards internationals? A lot can be done in making facilities available and in making communication available in English, to make the step from available to accessibility.”
Q: Do you also promote learning Dutch among the internationals?
Yes, we do! We also promote learning Dutch as much as we can. Nice to see that many schools with international students also created Learning Dutch opportunities for parents. I do feel that companies and other organisations can do more to facilitate their internationals and international families.
Q: What is your strategy besides the above-mentioned features for the living In Program?
Engaging companies to evolve a long-term strategy is also part of the Living In Program. There is much focus on the attraction of talent. Together with the Talent Attraction Program of Brainport Development and the Holland Expat Center South, the Living In Program aims for more awareness and company policy on the retention of talent.
Retention is not just about onboarding talent into your organisation, it is also about the “social and environmental onboarding” of talent. If an employer or an organization takes responsibility in this, this will have a major effect on the retention of talent.
Q: how do you intend to bridge the gap in the Living In program?
Creating opportunities for the equally talented spouses of the first hires are a crucial part of the Living In Program. That is why the program also concentrates on bridging the gap between the international talent of spouses and SME companies. We try to include international talent in small and medium-sized companies. We expect this to contribute to the internationalisation of the region.
Q: Do you partner with other entities for your program?
To make the Living In Program a success, it is very important to drive change together. That is why we cooperate on a daily basis with representatives of the international community. Expat Spouses Initiative, the Indigo-Wereld “Get in Touch”- program, The Hub Eindhoven and the TU/e SportsCenter continuously show to be very professional and engaged partners in driving the change.
We have only just begun, but I am quite sure that we will evolve into an internationally friendly and hospitable environment that is able to retain international talent.
And that retention of talent will mean an important contribution to the further development of the Brainport Eindhoven region.
For Eindhoven News: Beena Arunraj