What does it mean to make it in the north? This is part of a series of portraits of local people, organisations, and companies working to further internationalise Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe. This time we spoke to Linda van den Berg, Customer Relations Manager, and Irina Heegen, HR Adviser, at Holland Employment Experts. The company aims to assist companies looking to bring in International staff through payroll solutions and by simplifying formalities.
By Morten Pedersen and Thomas Ansell
What does Holland Employment Experts do?
Lots of companies want to bring over highly-skilled International graduates, for example, to fill a position or to bring specific skills. Any company that wants to do that has to be a ‘recognised sponsor’ with the IND (the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service), but it can be an expensive and complicated task getting this accreditation. Holland Employment Experts (HEE) solves that problem: they themselves are a recognised sponsor with the IND, and can hire staff on a companies behalf, before seconding that staff member back to the company. But that’s not all HEE can do.
Linda van Den Berg, Customer Relations Manager, explains further: “we were originally called ‘Holland Payroll’, but we decided to change our name to reflect the wider number of services we provide as a company. So, whilst we offer our payrolling service, we are now more involved in all the other steps involved in bringing International staff to work in the Netherlands.”
Irina Heegen, HR Adviser, continues: “that includes applying for permits on behalf of our client companies, for both new International staff and their families. We also try to support incoming staff as much as possible during their move. We’ll help a new arrival with applying for the 30% tax ruling, if they are eligible, and help make sure that their move to one of our client companies is as smooth as possible.”
This flexibility and range means that HEE also works with people already in the Netherlands, says Irina: “Lots of our recruits that are already in the Netherlands use us for the flexibility we can offer. So their contracts are usually quite short. With International staff, the normal contract is an initial one-year, but we are seeing some people stay for up to 4 years, or even longer!”
And what sort of companies does Holland Employment Experts help?
Linda: “Well, we have four offices across the Netherlands, our Heerenveen office is the only one in the North, but myself and a couple of other staff travel everywhere to help our other offices with International recruits. Our clients come from across the Dutch economy, but particularly from sectors where it can be a little difficult to hire. We have very low unemployment in the Netherlands, so it’s sometimes difficult for companies in IT, Engineering, and technology to find qualified staff that are available.”
Irina: “Our most-often filled positions at the moment are Data Scientists, analogue Engineers, and IT developers of all kinds. We’ve seen quite a lot of IT experts coming in from Eastern Europe, whilst lots of engineering roles are being filled by Indian graduates.”
How can the North become more International?
Linda: “A really good step, which is supported by the Make it in the North project, is letting companies that hire International people tell other companies who they are, and how their experiences have been. Then companies can learn from their peers, and hopefully everybody can expand together. At the moment, maybe a company across the street is hiring International staff, and we don’t know about it and can’t help them!”
Irina: “Whilst lots of companies have English as a working language, there are some for whom speaking Dutch at lunch, or with colleagues, is very important. The situation is sometimes complicated here in Friesland, where some companies use Frisian as their internal language. Naturally, we always suggest that a newcomer learns some Dutch so that they can integrate, but there isn’t really any reason that a company that works Internationally can’t have staff that conduct business in English.”
Linda: “More attention also needs to be paid to housing. It’s something that incoming Internationals often worry about, and rightly so.”
Irina: “In some ways, it would be useful to have something like International Students have: where there are chances for incoming International people to meet their Dutch peers and colleagues. But even in the last 2 years we have seen significantly more people coming to the North from outside of the Netherlands, and that’s a great trend.”
Holland Employment Experts (HEE) can be contacted for all manner of assistance in hiring International staff in the North. To see jobs at all levels and across loads of industries in Groningen, Friesland, and Drenthe just head to www.makeitinthenorth.nl