Often viewed as the “gateway to Europe” for Chinese nationals, the Netherlands ranks among the most dynamic and competitive economies in the world, and one of the best countries for business investment. With a rich tradition in culture and trade, the Netherlands plays a lead role in international trade and is often the first choice for business expansion and investment. To the question of why so many foreign companies enter Europe through the Netherlands, there is definitely more than one answer. This blog introduces one of the biggest advantages of this country: its highly educated and multilingual workforce, something rarely seen in other countries.
Dutch people are well-known for their outstanding language abilities. Most Dutch people are Dutch-English bilinguals and many are multilinguals able to speak several foreign languages other than their mother tongue to a working degree. The Netherlands is the top English-speaking country outside the Anglosphere, with 90-93% of the population speaking fluent English. It seems that English is no longer a foreign language in this country. Besides their English proficiency, 71% Dutch people speak German, 29% speak French and 5% speak Spanish according to national statistics (ONS). The multilingual environment facilitates excellent communication between people from different countries and cultures, making the Netherlands a standout choice for any company entering the European marketplace.
Apart from being multilinguals, Dutch people are often well-educated and highly skilled employees. Dutch higher education is known for its exemplary quality. According to the Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings 2021, the Netherlands houses 13 top-class public universities, 7 of which are ranked in the top 100 universities in the world. Moreover, the enrolment rate in higher education is up to nearly 85% in the Netherlands, with 37% of the Dutch working population earning a higher university education degree. There is no doubt that the Netherlands boasts fantastically educated employees with valuable expertise across various fields and industries.
Equipped with a wealth of professional knowledge gained as part of their educational curriculum, Dutch university graduates become very competitive in the labor market. A total of 10 universities in the Netherlands appear in the Global University Employability Ranking 2019, also published by Times Higher Education. The top three Dutch universities for graduate employability – Delft University of Technology, Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) and Leiden University – each offers something unique.
1. Delft University of Technology
As the leading Dutch university in the graduation employability rank, Delft University of Technology provides students with a variety of opportunities to connect with businesses as well as governmental and civic organizations, allowing them to apply what they have learned in class into practice. At this university, constructive partnerships with companies are equally important as in-depth knowledge and cutting-edge creativity.
2. Erasmus University of Rotterdam
Erasmus University of Rotterdam (EUR) is an internationally oriented university with a strong social orientation in both education and research. EUR has earned an excellent reputation for its pragmatic approach, entrepreneurial vibe, and a “make it happen” mentality that helps students and researchers to pursue their ambitions in a wide range of areas such as wealth management, health, governance, and cultural enterprises. Consequently, it is consistently ranked in the top 2% of the world’s best universities.
3. Leiden University
Founded in 1575, Leiden University is the oldest university in the Netherlands. It is located across two vibrant student cities: Leiden – the home of Orange Swallow – and The Hague. 28,100 students from 120 different countries worldwide are enrolled, with such diversity explaining the university’s claim to be “a place of refuge where any question can be asked and answered in complete freedom”. Leiden University leads the way in various fields ranging from natural sciences, life sciences, medicine, social sciences to international law, astronomy and non-Western languages.