Peter Wennink, ASML

ASML wants to make hundreds of engineers available to help solve the shortage of teachers in technical education. According to CEO Peter Wennink, this concerns all levels of education. Wennink’s initiative fits in with a more general wish in the Netherlands to encourage better cooperation between education and business professionals as part of an effort to solve the shortage of technicians.

“I think we can find 500 engineers at ASML who immediately say ‘I’m going to do that'”, says Wennink. The- which was updated last year in consultation with the cabinet – also incorporates intentions regarding the deployment of technical instructors. The three partners of the Dutch Technology Pact (VSNU, FME and 4TU) are pleased with ASML’s steps. The three organisations have, together with the Ministry of Economic Affairs, committed themselves to, among other things, “deploying more teachers from the business community”.

Pilot running

FME is pleased with the extra push from Wennink. “The initiative comes for an important part from him, our task now is to get it done”. Behind the scenes, there is a lot of discussion between FME and the Ministries of Education and Economic Affairs. Wennink is aware that although his initiative might sound logical, it is not as easy as it seems. “Together with FME and the Ministry of Education, we are already working on the details. We are going to run pilots. However, we do run into the rules at the education ministry: the people involved do not have any didactic authority, so that is difficult. But that must be solvable if you do it together, isn’t it?” Education Minister Van Engelshoven already announced last year that she was “sympathetic to this idea”.

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Wennink thinks new legislation would help. Wennink: “We are prepared to bear the salary costs. But it would be nice if in return we could get some discount on their wage taxes.” For example, a sort of WBSO (“Research and Development Promotion Act”, intended to stimulate Research & Development through tax relief) adapted to this proposal could be devised for this purpose. “Think of a WBTO: Act for the Promotion of Technology in Education.

ASML ambassadors

ASML already has hundreds of ‘ambassadors’ who provide voluntary support in education. “I want to structure that,” says Wennink. Of course, it would be nice if this initiative could help his company solve the shortage of technical personnel, but the problem is broader, he says. “All these innovations and all this technology in our society have caused a separation in your society, between the haves and havenots. Are you included or excluded? And that’s why it’s so incredibly important that we focus on supporting education. That we think together with governments about a hybrid education system, making sure that our engineers can enter the classroom.”

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