ITEM awarded SWOL grant for cross-border research by students

The Limburg University Fund/SWOL has awarded a grant of 5000 euros for bachelor’s students to conduct research into the internationalisation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Dutch border provinces of Limburg and Drenthe. The students will be supervised by experts from Maastricht University’s Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and Mobility (ITEM), NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences and Zuyd University of Applied Sciences

Limburg and Drenthe
The border provinces of Limburg and Drenthe are both increasingly international and both support small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in conducting business internationally, for example by providing subsidies and sharing knowledge and information about topics related to international business. Limburg and Drenthe can be considered as rural areas that suffer from a shrinking population and often face a shortage of highly-skilled employees from the Netherlands. This leads many companies to search for highly-skilled workers from abroad. 

SMEs and highly-skilled migrant workers
This research looks at how regional SMEs in Limburg and Drenthe fill their demand for highly-skilled workers by searching in other countries as well as how they try to retain highly-skilled migrants for a longer period of time. It also explores the possibilities for regional SMEs to help their highly-skilled international employees to integrate into the regions.

Research objectives
Bachelor’s students in both provinces will work together on this research project during the 2019/20 academic year. Supervised by researchers from ITEM, NHL Stenden and Zuyd, they will examine: 

  • the problems faced by the SMEs in both regions, as well as the opportunities and possible solutions (a comparison) 
  • the attractiveness of the Limburg and Drenthe regions for the SMEs and for the highly-skilled migrants 
  • possible measures and suggestions for support that can be provided by the regional governments (municipalities, provinces)

Best practices
The student researchers will develop interview questions, conduct interviews with representatives of the SMEs, analyse the data and ultimately identify best practices that could be transferred into guidelines for public and private stakeholders within both Limburg and Drenthe.

This research project is funded by the SWOL with co-financing from NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, and the Institute of Transnational and Euregional cross-border cooperation and Mobility.

Links with ongoing Euregional research
This project will further strengthen Maastricht University’s cooperation with other higher education institutions in the Netherlands and provide the opportunity to further increase its activities to border regions beyond Limburg. The project complements ongoing research conducted at ITEM, partiularly the INTERREG-V-A project youRegion. This project runs from 2018 to 2022 and pursues two overarching objectives: 

  • to promote the cross-border labour market in the Euregio Meuse-Rhine (EMR) by centrally coordinating and linking the advisory and placement services and 
  • to establish a Euregional ‘welcome culture’ (Willkommenskultur) for newcomers, employees and companies in the region

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