Zuid-Limburg’s long-term approach to Euroregional labour market

20 April 2023
Zuid-Limburg region joins national Talent Coalition programme

Zuid-Limburg, led by the central municipalities of Heerlen, Sittard-Geleen and Maastricht, is going to focus even more strongly on a cross-border labour market. This is necessary because the demand for specific skilled workers and international knowledge workers is increasing. The 3 municipalities are making more than €1 million available for this approach in 2023.

This move aims to intensify services for expats and cross-border workers. The mediation of residents from the Euregio Meuse-Rhine to work across the border will also be improved. The region will do this with the help of the existing collaborating services of the Grensinfopunten – GIP (Cross-Border Information Points), the Services Grensoverschrijdende Arbeidsbemiddeling – SGA (Cross-border Employment Service) and Expat Centre Maastricht Region.

The Zuid-Limburg region will also participate in the national Talent Coalition programme. This national programme will allow employers to be better facilitated in attracting qualified employees at higher vocational and university level and retaining international students for the region.

"Border workers and knowledge workers are an indispensable link in our Zuid-Limburg economy. In the coming years, our labour market will only become more international. This requires employment matching services. Further to that, if we want to keep the labour market vital, we have to keep attracting talent to this region and keeping it here. This requires solid and long-term regional cooperation. With this approach, that is now in place," said Martin de Beer, wethouder for the economy and labour market in Heerlen.

Labour shortage
The shortage in the Zuid-Limburg labour market is increasing. In November last year, 30,000 jobs were vacant in Limburg. Labour demand is also changing. The Zuid-Limburg economy is becoming more knowledge-intensive, led by the campuses. In addition – across the Netherlands – there is a shortage of skilled personnel. ‘This shortage and mismatch, we can only solve together, as a Euroregion. We really need to pull out all the stops in the coming years to increase labour mobility between countries, despite all the regulatory differences that undeniably still exist. Waiting for national governments to iron these out is not an option,’ said Hubert Mackus, wethouder for the economy in Maastricht.

Joint approach
Zuid-Limburg is therefore making work of a Euroregional labour market in the coming years by:

  • Continuing and expanding cohesive services to internationals. These consist of: 
    • the 2 border information points Aachen Eurode and Maastricht, focussing on the German and Belgian labour market;
    • the 2 border employment services (Kerkade and Maastricht), which (in)directly mediate employees to employers across the border and vice versa; and
    • Expat Centre Maastricht Region, which focusses on the international knowledge worker.     
  • Developing a Euroregional job portal for workers with tertiary education;
  • Setting up a single Welcome to Maastricht Region information point for employees and employers (in 2023);
  • A coordinating project leader for the Euroregional and international labour market.

The municipalities will further develop their approach with the region in 2023. In doing so, they explore whether cooperation with other partners – European Union, State and Province, knowledge and educational institutions, Brightlands campuses, intermediaries and employers – can be broadened. On this basis, the 3 municipalities will agree on their contributions for 2024-2026.

Talent Coalition
In addition, the Zuid-Limburg region joins the national Talent Coalition programme. This collaboration between regional and national parties develops, builds and promotes concrete initiatives to ensure that international talent is eager to settle in the Netherlands and quickly feels at home. Among other things, a national online portal has been developed to point international talent to all relevant vacancies in the Netherlands. Zuid-Limburg joins this programme as a region.

‘Talent does not stop at borders,’ said Yvonne Salvino-Meijer, Sittard-Geleen's wethouder for the economy. ‘We see that, led by campus development, companies in Limburg are becoming increasingly international and there is a growing need for specific knowledge and skills. By joining the Talent Coalition, we are responding to this, expanding the labour market and promoting Zuid-Limburg more firmly as an innovative knowledge region.’

Zuid-Limburg: Euroregional labour market
The labour market in Zuid-Limburg is increasingly based on the Euroregion Meuse-Rhine and internationals. About 5 per cent of employees in Zuid-Limburg live in Belgium or Germany. 50,000 employees commute daily from Zuid-Limburg to these neighbouring countries and vice versa. A total of about 35,000 internationals live in Zuid-Limburg: 4,600 knowledge workers, 8,300 labour migrants, 11,200 international students, more than 10,000 income-dependent partners (and 7,500 children).

The Cross-Border Information Points have over 4,000 client contacts with (potential) border workers each year, double the number for 2019. The SGAs mediate about 250 people across the border to work each year. Expat Centre Maastricht Region has 2,000 customer contacts every year and works with the Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst – IND for over 100 international employers. Knowledge workers and migrant workers working there are helped with the necessary formalities in an accelerated manner. Partly due to the tight labour market, the number of applications (in 2022) for this accelerated procedure increased by 21 per cent compared to the previous year.