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Northern Netherlands presents plans for accelerated talent development in national Operation Beethoven

21 June 2024

The Northern Netherlands presented its plans for promoting talent development in technology today. The plans are part of the Cabinet’s ambitious Operation Beethoven, which aims to help retain the semiconductor industry and companies such as ASML in the Netherlands.

There are great staff shortages in the technology sector, and specifically in the semiconductor industry, which plays a crucial role in the production of modern electronic products, such as smartphones, consumer electronics, and medical equipment. In 2023, no fewer than 80,000 positions were open. This problem is also felt by firms such as ASM International, Nexperia, BE Semiconductor Industries, and ASML, one of the leaders in the global microchip industry. If the Netherlands wants to retain its world-wide top position, these staff shortages will have to be reduced fast.


In order to tackle the shortage of technically trained personnel, the Cabinet has introduced ‘Operation Beethoven’, comprising EUR 450 million in investments until 2030, and an annual EUR 80 million after that year. These resources are intended for knowledge institutions in four regions: Eindhoven, Delft, Twente, and Groningen, which has explicitly broadened its proposition to the entire Northern Netherlands region.

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New degree programmes and focus on intake of technology students

The Northern Netherlands is expecting to be able to produce an additional 3,200 technology graduates per year between 2025 and 2030. To this end, a number of new degree programmes will be developed, such as a vocational training programme in Instrumentation and Control Engineering (Instrumentenmakerij), an Associate Degree in Analysis Techniques at university of applied sciences level, and an academic Engineering Doctorate in Autonomous Systems.

In addition, emphasis will be placed on increasing the intake of and reducing dropout among technology students, using unutilized labour potential, and stimulating inclusion.

Ready to make a substantial contribution to talent development in the semiconductor industry

Erica Schaper, President of the Board of NHL Stenden, Deputy Chair of the Netherlands Association of Universities of Applied Sciences, and steering committee chair of the University of the North, says: ‘The Northern Netherlands has been asked to make a contribution to Operation Beethoven. And that is no surprise, given that we have a strong, innovative ecosystem with fantastic teaching and research at levels ranging from vocational to academic education, with strong links to companies, for example, in the Drachten Innovation Cluster and the manufacturing industry in the Emmen region. In addition, the Northern Netherlands is pursuing the regional HTSM (High-Tech Systems and Materials) agenda ‘Smart & Green Systems’, thus bringing together knowledge, activities, and talent in the fields of autonomous systems and future-proof computing. If you combine this with the space that we still have here and the ambitions that the region has, you will understand that we are ready to make a substantial contribution to the challenge that we are now facing.’

The Northern Netherlands: an attractive business location

Dina Boonstra of the NOM agrees: ‘The Northern Netherlands is known for its strong manufacturing industry, which is rooted in one of the cleanest and greenest regions of the Netherlands. This manufacturing industry is fed by world-class teaching and research. The fact that companies such as SHINE, Google, and NTS Norma have settled in the Northern Netherlands is a clear sign that this is an attractive business location.’

Widely supported collaboration

The knowledge institutions and NOM cannot do all of this on their own. The Northern provinces, the municipalities of Groningen, Leeuwarden, Smallingerland, and Emmen, the Northern Netherlands Economic Board, VNO-NCW MKB Noord, Campus Groningen, Greenwise Campus, the Drachten Innovation Cluster, Witec, Hittech, NTS Norma, Hardt Hyperloop and IT Hub Hoogeveen have also embraced the plans.

Stimulus for wide prosperity in the region

Although Operation Beethoven primarily aims to strengthen the semiconductor industry in the south of the country, Schaper and Boonstra also see great benefits for the northern region: ‘The Northern Netherlands has several companies that produce state-of-the-art components and systems that dovetail with the needs of the semiconductor industry. This includes advanced materials, high-precision components, and systems that combine sensor technology, mechatronics, smart software, and electrical engineering. Witec, Hittech, and NTS Norma are a few well-known examples. They have been suppliers to ASML for years. These companies are of course very interested in the increasing availability of talent. Operation Beethoven enables us to better tailor our range of teaching and research to what the industry needs, and will give increasing numbers of students and professionals the opportunity to gain work experience with companies in the Northern Netherlands and beyond. All in all, we therefore regard this impulse as progress towards wide prosperity in the Northern Netherlands.’

University of the North

The University of the North is an initiative by the UG, UMCG, Hanze UAS, NHL Stenden UAS, Van Hall Larenstein UAS, and vocational education institutions in the North. Through the University of the North, the educational and knowledge institutions involved want to boost the wide prosperity in the Northern Netherlands and the transitions as formulated in the Knowledge Agenda. This is achieved through making smart use of each other’s facilities, making each other’s teaching easily accessible, and stimulating hybrid research groups and entrepreneurship.


NOM, the investment and development agency for the Northern Netherlands, offers tailored funding and advice to innovative entrepreneurs who want to grow or settle in the Northern Netherlands. The NOM supports entrepreneurs with money, connections and knowledge. Entrepreneurs take centre stage. The services provided are independent, easily accessible and creative. They help entrepreneurs grow and thus contribute to sustainably strengthening the northern economy.

Last modified:24 June 2024 2.54 p.m.
View this page in: Nederlands

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