by Christopher An-Traumer
President-Director of Shell Netherlands Dick Benschop gave a speech at the NUFFIC annual conference in Utrecht on March 11th, 2014. In his speech titled International is the new normal Benschop addresses the issue of internationalisation and importance of the role of education in economic development and innovation.
The changing world
The economic world has changed drastically in the past hundred years. Technological advances have created new opportunities for business to grow worldwide, but also creating global competition for multinational companies as well as economies - and while businesses compete to be at the top of the market, there is also fierce global competition amongst students.Thirty years ago the competition for students was sitting with them in the same classroom, whereas today businesses are looking to recruit new talented students and graduates from across the world. This may sound threatening, but should also be seen as an opportunity to create win-win situations by creating partnerships between multinational organizations and educational institutions, thus providing businesses a stream of new talents while offering students an opportunity to work at top companies.
Shortage of students in Technical education
Shell is a prime example of a small organization that has grown to be one of the most recognizable brands around the world by embracing internationalization and attracting talent from around the world. They are active in more than 70 countries, employing around 87,000 people globally. However, even multinational companies face difficulties in recruiting new staff as certain fields of education – especially technical education – is not attractive enough to be popular amongst prospective students. To tackle this problem, Shell is investing money and energy to help kids (even during secondary education) to discover technology and making them see it as fun and challenging rather than dirty or exhausting.Another problem is that businesses and research institutes also fail to attract new talent because they are too specialized in their own field when the way forward would be to focus more on what the customers (the students) are interested in.
Companies need to create more scope to be attractive to foreign students and researchers to prevent potential shortages in labor the market. The cooperation between businesses and educational institutions is vital for attracting new local talent as well as international top students to come study in the Netherlands. On a national level, being attractive to foreign students also plays a role in attracting more foreign companies to locate in the Netherlands, which has a direct effect on the economy. Therefore it is not only for beneficial for companies themselves but the national economy to create smooth cooperation between business and education.
The key to promoting economic growth and future developments is addressing the issue how business and research institutes can work together better. Educational institutions and business have a lot to offer each other, but we also need to look to the future and tackle potential problems with urgency. International orientation combined with excellent education and partnerships is a key aspect of building a future by the means of enterprise.
To read Dick Benschop's entire speech at the NUFFIC annual conference on March 11th, 2014, please click here