Dutch firms invest heavily in staff development; Leaders divided on Brexit

Amsterdam Business School
Amsterdam Business SchoolPhoto: ahavelaar/DepositPhotos

A new study of senior managers at Dutch businesses found that firms in the Netherlands are spending far more than normal on training and developing their staff. The study also found that many of the business leaders were focused on improving sustainability, but that they were divided on the Brexit issue.

The increasingly tight job market was speculated as one reason that companies are investing more in their personnel. “Dutch businesses want to invest almost three times more in social development than in classical forms of innovation such as R&D or the purchase of new machines and technology,” said Professor Henk Volberda. As the competition for qualified people heats up, it could entice companies pull out all stops in maintaining their well-educated staffs while becoming more attractive to potential workers.

The Strategic Management and Innovation professor is based at the Amsterdam Centre for Business Innovation at the University of Amsterdam’s Business School. He led a team of researchers there to produce the Dutch Innovation Monitor 2019, the results of which were scheduled to be released Wednesday night.

Roughly 63 percent of the 800 managers were actively taking steps to improve sustainability as it relates to their company’s energy use. Despite this, just 51 percent saw opportunities in energy transition. Roughly the same found energy transition to be affordable.

Nearly 13 percent of those surveyed were threatened by the issue, and 16% said it was not affordable.

The issue of Brexit was where the business representatives were especially divided. Some 35 percent said they saw Brexit as an opportunity, with 20 percent considering a threat even though just 15 percent said they had already faced problems due to Brexit.

“Around 40 percent of the businesses consider themselves prepared for a hard Brexit, whereas only 14 percent do not,” Volberda said in a statement. The study also determined that 32 percent prefer a hard Brexit over the ongoing uncertainty, while 26% said they disagreed.

The study’s results were to be discussed during the television show De Wereld van Morgen. The show was scheduled to air on AVROTROS, Wednesday at 8:25 p.m. on NPO1.