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On the 6th of May 2019, YoungCapital NEXT (a new label of Dutch recruitment agency YoungCapital that offers traineeships and higher education) opened an HBO ICT Software Development in Eindhoven. This is a bachelor’s degree program that allows students to combine both work and studies, so as to gain lots of practical knowledge required for their work as software developers.

The first HBO Software Development program by YoungCapital NEXT has been already active in Hoofddorp – there are 60 students at the moment, and Eindhoven is the second location for the students to study. But why did a recruitment agency by origin start providing higher professional education? The Sales & Development Director of YoungCapital NEXT, Gert-Jan Steltenpool, says that YoungCapital have heard it many times from their clients that recent HBO-graduates working in an entry-level position don’t always add value to the company or they don’t fit the positions that the company has open at the moment. On the other hand, many young people who have recently finished their HBO-level education admit that they haven’t learnt much applicable to their work. “There is a huge gap between what students learn in their colleges and universities and what employers are asking. We started our first HBO with the aim of bridging that gap, to make the education more practical and more up-to-date (for example, our students learn about Blockchain). In addition to this, every student works with a talent manager – a coach who can provide them support and guidance when the young people have some questions about their studies, work, private life, results, salaries. We also help the students to develop more soft skills and leadership skills, which would allow them to excel faster in their job. I think our program is the only HBO program of that kind in the Netherlands now.”

The education by YoungCapital NEXT is free. “Students have a boot camp for the first three months, during which they only study. Then they go to work for our clients for 4 days a week and study for 1 day a week.” Steltenpool defines it as a more practical way of studying. “In a normal HBO you study for 4 years but they don’t provide you with job experience. Here you graduate with the work experience of 3,5 years, so with the first-hand knowledge that you have gained you are able to ask for a lot more benefits when you start working.”

Selection process

“We put a lot of efforts into our students, so we have a really strict process of selection. Most of the times we begin with an introduction day for the potential candidates so as to tell them about our bachelor’s degree. Candidates who became interested and want to apply are asked to write a motivation letter – but not a standard one: it should be focused on what kind of software developer a person wants to become and what s/he likes to develop. The applicants are also asked to prepare a video self-presentation to demonstrate their social and communication skills – video is more informative for us then written documents. Our recruiters analyse all these files and decide if a candidate can be a possible fit for our HBO. Then the selected applicants are invited to a personal interview. The potential students are also asked to prepare a presentation with some code that they have written.”

YoungCapital Next in Eindhoven

“We decided to go to Eindhoven with our HBO-program because a lot of IT companies in the area are finding it difficult to find young IT talent. In addition to this, Eindhoven has numerous start-ups and scale-ups. These are the companies that want to work with us because they believe in young talent. They usually have their own development teams, so they have the ability to coach our students in the work environment. With our HBO program, we want to offer our students to the companies of Eindhoven area,” says Steltenpool.

On average YoungCapital’s HBO students are 21-22 years old, and their backgrounds are quite different – it can be HAVO, MBO, just started HBO or a bachelor level studies at TU/e. “Most of the students in our program are the ones who have started the studies at the Eindhoven University of Technology or Fontys Hogeschool and have realized that the program is not right for them and that they can’t learn what they want to learn – for example, it happens because those students expect more practice from their studies. Then young people start considering other types of professional education.”

The geographical location for the new YoungCapital NEXT HBO was also taken into account. “We learnt that many people who applied for our Software Development program in Hoofddorp found it hard to go to this location every day,” says Steltenpool. “So we rented a floor in an office building in Eindhoven – and here is our first class,” says Steltenpool showing 12-15 young people, who are coding while listening to the teacher’s instructions. “We are excited to see what companies in Eindhoven would like to work with us hiring our students after the boot camp.”