Post Craiova – Yes, we can mentality 

Post Craiova – Yes, we can mentality 

In this blog, I recently wrote about Camelia, the daughter of good friends from Craiova who was studying literature in Groningen. She has now taken the next step in her international student career, while the Netherlands seems to be heading for a standstill in the internationalization of higher education and a drastically curtailing of foreign students. As far as I’m concerned, that’s unfortunate and rather short-sighted. After all, we still badly need all those young, motivated, and talented people. 

Labor market shortages are still a given in the Netherlands. In my opinion, this will be permanent in certain sectors. Migrant workers are an important part of the solution to compensate for these shortages in the long term. Especially in the knowledge sector, such as in the Eindhoven region. Here, highly educated migrant workers have a huge impact on the functioning of companies, on progress and innovation. Therefore, they represent great economic value for the Netherlands. An anecdote I regularly share is about a Quality Assurance Engineer working with one of our clients, who is originally from Poland. He lived and worked in the Netherlands for eight years before moving to Norway. He went there as a result of his American wife’s academic career, whom he met in the Netherlands where she was studying at the time. 

Hard to follow? I think it’s a great example of how internationalization facilitates the mobility of labor. As a result, talented and driven employees can continue to develop and contribute positively to organizations and Europe’s economy. Unfortunately, in my view, this is too often overlooked in public debate. No one seems to be welcoming migrants. We hear a great deal of complaints about pressure on social services and problems in the housing market. While acknowledging these issues, I’m missing a more optimistic stance. Solutions are being ignored for very basic reasons. Where is the will to take on challenges? There is still a great deal to be said about this, but a little more of a ‘Yes, we can’ mentality would help us. 

The short-term results of inflexible thinking could be seen in Denmark, for example. Recently, a major newspaper headlined that the Danes want to attract more international students after years of restrictions. This radical change springs from necessity. There is an acute shortage of – young – professionals in specific sectors. Just like in the Netherlands. Back to Camellia. She is now doing an internship in Brussels, as a French translator. Her mother drove more than 4,000 kilometers from Craiova to move her daughter from Groningen to her new hometown. A huge undertaking, which symbolizes the sacrifices people will make to offer their children a better quality of education and better opportunities in life. Because they know that this contributes to prosperity now and in the future. While the internationalization of education is mainly seen as a problem, it can be framed with equal ease as a decisive success factor for the future of Dutch society. 

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