Fontys © IO

In order to offer technical students who fled from war zones a better chance in the Dutch educational system and thus also to help solve the shortage of technicians, Fontys University of Applied Sciences starts with a preparatory course for a technical associate degree. Wednesday 2 October is the first day of lessons for the first group of refugee students who want to work in technology. The Foundation for Refugee Students UAF and a number of technology companies in Brabant are also involved in the ‘Learning and Working’ project.

The students already gained experience in the country of origin in mechanical or electrical engineering, as a student or engineer. Because they had to flee, their education or career came to an abrupt halt. “From experience, we know that Learning and Working for refugee students and professionals is a smart and relatively fast route to a job”, says Mardjan Seighali, director of UAF. “They obtain a recognised Dutch diploma and at the same time gain work experience. In this way, they increase their chances of finding a job that matches their abilities.”

Preparation

In the next twenty weeks, the students will prepare themselves for a technical course (Associate Degree) at Fontys, and for finding a suitable internship. “They get to know the education system, improve their language and develop their study skills”, says Simone van der Velde, Programme Manager at Fontys. “They also focus on the technology sector, for example by getting acquainted with technical companies in Brabant. The students who successfully complete this preparation then combine technical education with a paid internship at a technical company. If they successfully complete their studies, after two years they have a recognised diploma and are ready to enter the labour market.”

In addition to ‘Learning and Working’, Fontys offers a pre-bachelor’s degree in Tilburg and Eindhoven for students with a refugee background. Two new groups started in August. Next year they will be ready to take a new step in their ambitions: starting with a study programme at a university of applied sciences or a university.

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