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Human Recources

Zuidberg and Innovation cluster Noordoostpolder, together in search for technical talent

19 November 2020  |  Reading time: 4 minutes

At Zuidberg we are always looking for ways to improve. Internally, we work Lean with advanced machinery. But we are also continuously improving outside our own premises. For example, we recently joined Innovation cluster Noordoostpolder; a regional group of ten innovative companies that focuses on combining knowledge and innovation. In this blog we talk about just what the benefits of such a cooperation are, how we stimulate technical talent and what our ultimate goal.

The role of the Innovation Cluster

Less and less students in the Netherlands are opting for a job in manufacturing, and we think that is a shame. Manufacturing is and remains the future. That is why we want to bring pupils and students into contact at a young age with everything that makes this sector so beautiful, so they can see that the possibilities are literally endless. By combining the strengths of ten innovative companies, we increase our reach and form an alliance with no less than 1000 FTEs where people can learn, develop and excel.

But that's not all; if also offers development and learning possibilities to our current employees. Together with the other parties involved, we acquire knowledge about Smart Industry developments and incorporate this into our working methods where possible and relevant. We do this via four programme lines: interest, development, regional branding and innovation. Together, we can turn the region into an area full of innovation, talent and a future.

The goal of the innovation cluster

In the past, we attended open days from educational instances often. However, we found that the impact we were able to make, was limited.

The collaborative power of this cluster allows us to think about starting educational programmes, guest lectures at the schools and short internships in, for example, technology for teachers at those schools, so that they can inspire their pupils. Ultimately, the goal is for pupils to find us and not 'pick the first technical internship'. They need to know what they are getting into.

For example, Gert Leusink, our Human Resources Manager (HR), visits several schools to discuss how to improve school-business relationships, how to get in touch with manufacturing companies faster. And most importantly, how we can connect the right people to the best fitting companies. We let students work with small technical assignments, talk about technological innovation and go into the technology behind the 'executing' work.

At Zuidberg we are developing programmes for this purpose that schools can use to bring their pupils or students into contact with technology.

Prejudices about working in technology

We often provide company tours.

We have been providing technical services for many years, so we know exactly what is going on at the moment. Experience tells us that there are still many prejudices about working in the technical sector, both in schools and in society as a whole.

But working in manufacturing is no longer what it used to be; heavy, exhausting and dirty.

Of course you still get your hands dirty from time to time, but nowadays working in manufacturing also means programming, analysing and optimising. You work with the newest machines, mostly robotic. They do the heavy work.

And the opinion that jobs in manufacturing are underpaid? Nonsense. Because of the relative shortage of technical personnel, wages are still rising.

​Plans for a technical campus

The ultimate goal is to think together about a technical campus in Emmeloord, an idea that is already in play in the municipality. That’s why we are member of the Education Committee. However, this is part of our long-term planning; if you start raising interest for manufacturing in young people and students right now, it will take a few years until you reap the benefit. But the fact that we can now think in such a long term says enough about the ambitions of this wonderful project.

Focus on growth of the innovation cluster

Ideally, we let the cluster grow as long as possible, in several areas. For example, there are plans to exchange personnel with those involved so that we can learn from each other. Also with 'competitive' cluster partners. We do not see this as a threat, but as an opportunity to grow. Not only on a technical level, but also with our HR and marketing departments, for example. Together we can make the region an epicentre of talent.

Coordination is key

The cluster’s structure was set up in a very precise manner; the programme manager coordinates everything according to a strict protocol. There are now ten companies in the innovation cluster, which we want to expand to a maximum of twenty - as far as the plans allow.

Want to know more about our role in the cluster?

Here you can read more about our joining Innovation Cluster Noordoostpolder. Do you have any further questions about our role, ambitions or would you like to talk about a possible cooperation? Please contact us, we would love to hear from you!​


The Innovationcluster kicked-off big with a billboard.

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Annelies Winters - HR advisor

As an HR advisor, Annelies is committed to attracting the right staff, and supporting the management and board with HR issues. 

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