Workshop summary: Talent Attraction with Yvonne van Hest, from Brainport Development

Sander Nõmmik
Author Sander Nõmmik

On the 20th of September we had a very cozy workshop led by Yvonne van Hest from Brainport Development in the Netherlands – a leading region in terms of talent attraction. We asked Yvonne to share some of her expertise in international talent attraction management in order to get some ideas on where we can learn from her experiences. Together with some Estonian companies and other stakeholders, here is what we learned from Brainport Development:

  • They are not shy at sharing their expertise and experience, because even though several countries and regions in Europe are in need of international talents to boost the national economy and boost innovation, we should be seen as collaborators, not competitors.
  • One of the keys for their success is the trust among all partners and stakeholders; the leadership vested and accepted by Brainport Development team; the scale in which they manage; and the focus of their activities.
  • Their model is based on the triple helix: government, businesses and universities. While government is the one executing it, the companies and business are the main customer of Brainport Development. Their team is coordinating efforts in Talent Attraction management and facilitating this for the companies, but is companies themselves who recruit.

Since the presentation was very interesting and there were many questions, we had a bit less time for our workshop – but we managed to ask the participants what were the main challenges in attracting and retaining international talent and possible ways for solving these, taking into account the Brainport Development experience. Here is what we got to know (and some comments from our side on how we can tackle the issues):

  • Country branding: Estonia is not yet the most widely known place on earth. With Work in Estonia together with the e-country image, definitely more and more people have gotten to know what a cool place we are as a workplace, living place and as a digital society with help of our campaigns. Lots of work is yet to be done, but together with companies we hope to generate more materials to introduce Estonia abroad. #workinestonia
  • Integration of foreigners: for internationals, it is sometimes difficult to generate a sense of belonging to the community and make social networks with locals. This is a very broad topic, but from our side we support local initiatives that support creating social and professional networks between Estonians and foreigners, such as Estonishing Evenings and Expat Spouse/Partner Networking Event. Ask us about these J
  • Language barrier: Estonian language makes it easier to integrate and live the day-to-day life in Estonia, so we should do as much as we can to support the language learning. To get some idea of what are the options, check our section on Estonian language.


More issues and possible solutions were described, but we won’t put them all here – but what we will do is take these into account when developing our services and activities for attracting international talents to Estonia. Always there is a way to make things better – and we are looking forward to hear some feedback from Estonian companies, so we can improve them together. And of course, we’ll keep you posted about it 🙂