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The appeal for a more flexible admission of high-tech talent to the Netherlands is gaining widespread support. Hartjes, vice president of marketing at the solar car start-up Lightyear and columnist at Innovation Origins, called for a more flexible work visa scheme for ex-pats last week in her column ‘The Brain-Gain potential‘.

TechLeap.nl, the Dutch advocacy organization for start-ups that aims to put the Netherlands in the top 5 of start-ups, supports her appeal. “It’s great that you are raising awareness on attracting talent,” writes the director of politics and board member Myrthe Hooijman. She has also pointed out to Hartjes that she and other start-ups and scale-ups can give their reactions to the new essential personnel scheme via the online consultation service. “This is the right time and right way to listen to your feedback and that of many other start-ups and scale-ups.”

Major recruitment problem in the US

Since President Trump has recently tightened the rules for immigrants wanting to acquire a work visa in the United States, American tech companies are now confronted with a major recruitment problem. According to Hartjes, the Netherlands would be able to benefit much more from this with a more flexible work visa scheme for ex-pats. However, the current Dutch immigration regulations for knowledge workers do pose an obstacle.

In her column, she put forward the argument that: “To protect our internal market, the Dutch government (IND, ed) dictates that when hiring highly-skilled non-EU workers, a specified minimum wage applies along with an age restriction … For start-ups, however, these rules are completely disproportionate. It means that if we want to hire someone from a non-EU country who is older than 30, we need to pay this person a minimum of €4612 (gross) a month. That would mean a junior engineer would get paid more than 80% of our company’s employees …”
She underlined that these higher wage conditions would be way out of line with the compensations and benefits usually available within many start-ups.

Founder Derren de Jong of the start-up accelerator Zero to One has taken Hartje’ words to heart: “I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s often difficult to attract talent within particular disciplines. Do we really have to go through the rigamarole of posting vacancies and creating dossiers for a period of six months first? Just as we have key sectors, we should also single out key professions where it is clear that they are either impossible or difficult to find applicants for within the internal market.”

This is why De Jong also advocates considerably speeding up international recruitment procedures in the Netherlands.