For many young people, industry is a thing of the past.
But this bustling high-tech region in the south of the Netherlands is doing all it can to attract Europe’s smartest youngsters.
In these tough economic times, Eindhoven is turning out to be an eldorado for skilled young people looking for work.
Many companies are looking for young workers with specific technical skills.
That’s the case of high-tech manufacturer Smits Machinefabriek.
Twenty-two year old Inigo Novoa, a technical engineer from Spain, got a work contract with Smits a few months ago after completing a traineeship.
“I have lots of friends here and I know people in Spain who want to come here because, if you want to learn and if you want to be somebody, you get the opportunity here, that’s for sure,” says Inigo.
The company invests above all in its employees.
It has two workers devoted to training young people.
Ana Rodríguez is also from Spain. She is in Eindhoven for a traineeship.
“We are students, but we are treated like workers. we have working hours, our own machine and we make our own pieces. We are like any other worker but we have the support of a person who teaches us new things,” says Ana.
The Dutch company works in partnership with vocational training institutions so that students pick up the right skills.
The company’s Director Michael Smits believes companies have an active role to play in educating young people.
“Companies need to be pro-active, looking for students, trying to get them interested in the job, they have to show them that it is not dirty work, it’s an interesting field of work. If we can make companies aware of that, I believe the whole industry will benefit from it,” he says.
Smits colaborates with a regional centre that brings together 20 schools for vocational training.
Here, students learn mechatronics, which combines the fundamentals of mechanical, electrical, and computer engineering, allowing them to invent new machines.
Ana and Inigo both came to Eindhoven thanks to one of the training centre’s many international projects.
These come under the Leonardo da Vinci programme, a European Commission scheme that supports mobility for vocational training.
Tinus Van de Pas, the international projects coordinator, said: “We realise a lot of youngsters in Europe are well skilled. They bring a lot of knowledge and what is also very important, they bring culture. And because Eindhoven is an industrial city in design, it’s very good that people in Europe work together in teams and that they sit together and think about innovation together.”
Many products are both invented and manufactured in and around Eindhoven.
That is why the region is in need of good brains and smart hands.
Attracting this skilled workforce is the mission of Brainport Development.
The company works on strengthening the competitive power of the region, together with the business community, education institutions and government authorities.
Brainport Development manager Mark Jacobs says competition is tough: “We are mainly interested in engineers at all kinds of levels. There are a lot of other regions in the world that are also looking for engineers so in fact we are all looking for the same kind of talents and that makes it a little bit difficult,” says Mark Jacobs.
The challenge is not only to attract but also to keep these skilled young people in Eindhoven.
The city offers a bustling urban centre, with a wide variety of shops, cafes and restaurants, a lively nightlife, and a busy cultural agenda.
The Glow festival which lights up the city in November is one of its many cultural attractions.
“There is a vibrant cultural life, every week-end there is something going on, festivals, concerts, art, there is always something to do,” says Inigo.