English is increasingly being spoken in shops and restaurants in the city of Groningen as businesses hire more internationals.
Translation by Traci White
Dagblad van het Noorden reports that there are two main reasons behind English becoming increasingly common: international students who receive financial aid from DUO have to work to be eligible for the funding, and businesses across the north are struggling with staff shortages.
Students from EU countries can receive financial aid from DUO if they work at least 14 hours a week, and as the international student numbers continue to soar in Groningen – there are around 8,600 foreign-born students in the city – more and more of those students are looking for work. Temp agencies in the city report that they are seeing higher numbers of international students coming in and looking for work.
Due to a strong economy across the country, the unemployment rate is low and there are fewer qualified job candidates in many professional fields, including the retail and dining industries.
Not all shops are prepared to hire internationals, however. Joke Fokkema, the leader of the shop owners association for the Herestraat, says that high end clothing shops in particular rely on giving specific advice and guidance to customers, and a language barrier can make that impossible.
Eric Bos, the leader of the Groningen City Club, a retailers organisation in the city, told the Dagblad that shops and eateries that primarily serve younger customers in particular are more inclined to hire non-Dutch speakers. Restaurants like Gustatio, SUMO, OOST and Wolter Wolthers have foreign employees on staff, as do clothing stores like Zara, Stradivarius and TK Maxx.
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