“Knowledge sharing is in our DNA. This is how we attract and retain talents''

09 maart 2020 | Netherlands Digital 2020 Conference is canceled. Read our contribution here. 

How do we keep technological talents in the Northern Netherlands?

Together with Groningen Engineering Business Center (GEBC) of the University of Groningen, Innovation Cluster Drachten will provide the answer to this question during a workshop at the Nederland Digitaal 2020 conference in Groningen. We would do this in a workshop on Monday March 16 during the Netherlands Digital 2020 Conference in Groningen. Unfortunately, the conference has been canceled due to measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. However, we do not want to withhold the story from anyone. Read here how knowledge sharing is part of our DNA.

Students who graduate in a technological subject have many jobs to choose from. Companies, governments, and healthcare institutions in the Netherlands and abroad, compete with each other to recruit these technological talents. According to Joost Krebbekx, Program Manager of Innovation Cluster Drachten, it is no longer self-evident that people graduating in the Northern Netherlands stay in the region. ,,Engineers, IT professionals, operators or technical designers have many vacancies at attractive companies to choose from. This means that it is getting more and more difficult for the companies of Innovation Cluster Drachten to fill their vacancies.” The Northern high-tech companies compete with high-tech companies in regions like Twente, Delft and Eindhoven. To be in the picture with students, the companies of Innovation Cluster Drachten have set up a program. ,,We bring technology students into contact with our companies to show them what we have to offer and which interesting companies and jobs are available in the Northern Netherlands. In this way, we help to keep technological talents in our region and prevent a knowledge drain.”

Knowledge sharing

The program set up by Innovation Cluster Drachten (ICD) consists of two elements. On the one hand, we introduce students to our companies through our high-tech safaris. On the other hand, we have set up special educational programs together with universities and regional training centers. ,,Knowledge sharing is in our DNA,” explains Krebbekx. ,,It is the starting point of our collaboration. It is therefore logical that we also like to share knowledge with students, to attract them and ultimately retain them.” During a high-tech safari, students visit a number of high-tech companies and are offered an informative program. ICD organizes these high-tech safaris together with student associations of the universities in Eindhoven, Delft, Twente and Groningen. Two years ago, high-tech safaris became part of the engineering physics and engineering mathematics programs of the University of Groningen. ,,For the Technology & Ethics component in these programs, we organize special tours of ICD companies with subject-related assignments. I will give an example. Photonis in Roden manufactures night-vision equipment for defense purposes. Students formulate propositions on the application of high-tech knowledge for war and peace purposes and then discuss these propositions with each other and employees of Photonis. After the discussion, students get an introduction to the impressive possibilities of night-vision equipment. Besides the challenge of discussing content, students also get an impression of the career possibilities at the company.”

Educational programs

The second element of ICD’s program to retain technological talents for the region and high-tech companies consists of educational programs set up by the high-tech companies together with regional universities and schools. An example is the Smart Factories track of the Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Groningen. ,,This Master track will start this autumn in ICD’s Smart Industry Fieldlab in Drachten, and we are very proud of this. The Master’s program Mechanical Engineering is offered by the Faculty of Science and Engineering and offers tracks in Advanced Instrumentation and Smart Factories. The program is now going to be extended with tracks in Process Design for Energy Systems and Materials for Mechanical Engineering. Students of the Smart Factories track will follow lectures and do research in the Smart Industry Fieldlab in their second year. This how we teach technological talents how to design intelligent, coherent and tailor-made production processes for the factory of the future. As this track allows students to get to know our companies, they also gain more insight into the interesting jobs on offer in the Northern Netherlands.”

Nederland Digitaal 2020 conference

The second edition of the annual Netherlands Digital Conference is canceled, but should take place from 16 to 19 March 2020 in Groningen. National and regional governments, companies and social organizations work together in order to make the Netherlands the frontrunner in digitalization in Europe. The conference includes a two-day scientific conference: ICT.OPEN. At this conference, the results of one year of digitalization would be shown based on the Netherlands Digitalization Strategy 2.0.


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