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One of the highlights of the Brainport Talent & Skills Agreement is the personal promise of the regional employers that all their employees will be able to develop themselves permanently. This is already the case for Frans Huijbregts, managing director of the Huijbregts Group. “As an employer, we no longer hire people for a specific job. We look at someone’s talents, whether someone fits our company and has the skills to learn.”

More than two hundred organisations have signed the Talent & Skills Agreement in recent weeks. With this agreement, the business community, education, government and the social partners in Brainport Eindhoven commit themselves to the joint goal (with concrete actions) of promoting innovations within education and the labour market, particularly with regard to technological professions.

The signatories include directors of SMEs and large companies such as Philips, ASML, NXP, and VDL; educational and research institutions, including the Eindhoven University of Technology, Fontys Hogescholen, Summa College and TNO; umbrella organisation VNO-NCW and directors and mayors of the large municipalities in the region. The agreement affects more than 500,000 inhabitants, 200,000 students and students and 200,000 employees of companies and institutions in Brainport Eindhoven.

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    The agreement contains seven concrete agreements to which partners commit themselves and which are immediately translated into actions. The signatories have given a personal commitment. Frans Huijbregts sees more and more employers looking at their future and current employees in this way. “As employers, we have to be constantly busy with ‘lifelong development’ and the agility of the employees in our companies. Many traditional professions have changed enormously in recent years as a result of technological and digital developments and, even more so, they are constantly changing. We are now taking joint responsibility for ensuring that our current employees, as well as future generations, can continue to participate in the labour market and contribute to a prosperous Netherlands.”

    Nienke Meijer, Chairman of the Board of Governors of Fontys University of Applied Sciences, is the initiator of the agreements on education: “At Fontys, we are working towards doubling the number of graduates in technological studies by 2025. At the beginning of 2019, for example, we will be starting two new technological master’s programmes aimed at developing the competences of the future. In addition, we take our role as a trainer for teachers in primary and secondary education very seriously, because the future of work always starts with learning. We develop this as Fontys together with the business community and also with the primary and secondary schools in the region. The formation of TEC skills, Technology-Entrepreneurship-Creativity, is leading in this. With the Brainport Talent & Skills Agreement, we all take direct responsibility for ensuring the best possible match between the labour market and education.”

    According to Meijer, there is no longer time for “postponement and vague promises” for the future of the Dutch labour market. “The tipping point with regard to the urgent shortages in filling vacancies in our region has now arrived. We need to take action now at all levels to close current deficits and, at the same time, prevent a long-term structural deficit. With this agreement, we are writing a new chapter for the future of education and the labour market; an integrated vision of work and learning.”

    Eindhoven mayor John Jorritsma is also one of the signatories. And with good reason: “Brainport Eindhoven is heading for a huge shortage on the labour market, because we excel in technology in this region, because of which the shortage of personnel is most noticeable. We see it as our responsibility to make our economy future-proof. For example, the new Brainport Industries Campus, where activity will start this autumn, is a perfect example of a hybrid learning environment and co-makership between business and education. Companies and HBO/MBO work together on joint projects and within a Teclab on education and innovation. With the Brainport Talent & Skills Agreement, we talk to each other about the results we want to achieve with these initiatives and whether we actually fulfill the agreements we make.”

    Photo (c) Joost Duppen

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    Author profile picture Bart Brouwers is co-founder and co-owner of Media52 BV, the publisher of