Eindhoven is an international city. Year after year more knowledge workers come here. They join the already established business activities, or they start their own company. The image of the city as a cluster for technology, design and knowledge is clearly bearing fruit. It’s the wonder of Eindhoven. But that success affects both sides: both as the expats land in the city and as the traditional Eindhoven residents learn to accept that the city is no longer just for them.
Councillor Staf Depla (Economy, Work, Income and Vocational Education) sees it as one of the council’s tasks to ensure that the city isn’t torn between these two sides. The hopes and needs of traditional Eindhoven residents are often different to those of the foreign knowledge workers, such as students, entrepreneurs and visitors. “And yet, one cannot do without the other. It might sometimes seem that we put a lot of effort into attracting “new” Eindhoven residents, but if we were to limit this, we would end up with a very unattractive city. I say this as both a convinced social democrat and a resident of Eindhoven.”
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Bringing together these two sides happens from many different angles, explains Depla. “I think the way in which we get our current Eindhoven students to benefit from our collaboration with the Waterloo Region in Canada, a similar area to Brainport, is a great example. Teachers from Brainport are now going to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo to take part in the EinsteinPlus programme. They will be informed about the latest developments in the field of theoretical science, including quantum physics. They will learn how they can offer better technological education to their students. Teaching the teacher, you might say. Ultimately, the Eindhoven students benefit from the presence of the high tech industry in our city.”
The agreement with Waterloo also stipulates that students from the Brainport region may take part in the International Summer School for Young Physicists. Conversely, Brainport Development is teaming up with the Perimeter Institute to offer a summer school concept in the Brainport region. “It all allows Eindhoven residents to enjoy our high-tech achievements to the fullest extent.”
Depla also gives the example of several large events in the city. “Take Glow, a wonderful event that interests every Eindhoven resident. But from Glow, we get things like Glow Next, which are also important to specific specialists. And the other way around: Dutch Technology Week is obviously incredibly interesting for certain groups, but, at the same time, there are events like Slimmer Leven Challenge, in which every Eindhoven resident can get involved.”
Another risk from having the two sides is that, while there is a lot of work for skilled people, it might be more limited for those with a lower-level skillset. “The opposite is true,” says Depla. “It has recently been studied, outside of Eindhoven too. It seems that cities with more skilled people also offer more opportunities to lower-skilled people. Not only because their presence in the city creates more customers in cafés, shops and theatres, for example, but also because their companies simply ensure a wide range of jobs. Everyone benefits and we see that here too.”
Eindhoven could be made even more attractive to knowledge workers, says Depla. “There will be a lot of effort put in over the next few years, we know how important it is to make expats feel at home in the city. But we also know that every Eindhoven resident has to be included.”
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