Science - April 10, 2008

Jobs for international students blocked by rules

Many students want to earn some extra money while studying. One of the best ways to do so is to get a part-time job. For most Dutch students that’s no problem, but for international students it seems to be more difficult, especially in a small town like Wageningen.

The employment agency Werkwijzer can help international students find part-time work.
A tour of the employment agencies in Wageningen makes it clear that the international community is not their main target group. ‘There are a number of reasons – first of all legislation and policy regarding employment for non-EU students is a hassle. The laws in the Netherlands are quite complicated and impose specific requirements on students. But on top of that, most employers want people who can speak and read Dutch,’ says an employee at the Randstad employment agency. ‘Of course there are many reasons for this. For a start, most companies function in Dutch, and the security and conflict prevention protocols are in Dutch as well. If they are planning to stay in the Netherlands for a while, I would advise students to learn Dutch if they want to get a job here.’

This is a familiar story for Gelareh Rahim, an Iranian MSc Biotechnology student. ‘I found it very hard to get a job in Wageningen. Even basic jobs like cleaning were hard to find. I visited almost every employment agency in Wageningen. In the end I gave up because I had started my MSc thesis and did not have enough time to work anyway.’

Although not every employment agency accepts international students, there are exceptions. One of these is Werkwijzer. Sam Trentelman, the manager of the Wageningen branch of Werkwijzer: ‘Although it’s true that we don’t get many requests from employers for international students, there are jobs available for this group of students. We offer administrative and cleaning jobs. Apart from earning money, a job can contribute to a student’s social network, and a lot of the international students work with a clear goal in mind, which makes them good workers. We had a student who wanted to go on holiday to her home country so she worked really hard to pay for her ticket. The paperwork is a hassle, but that’s the law and we have to deal with it. The only thing we can do is assist the students in this process.’

The University also offers some jobs for international students. Jeroen Ouburg works at the international office of the CSA: ‘We hire international students for specific jobs especially during the summer break. For example, they can work as buddies for newly arrived international students. That’s more fun than working as a cleaner or in a supermarket, but these jobs are not available all year round. We are now looking to create more job opportunities within the University for Dutch as well as international students.’

The Wageningen Student Union also does its best to make sense of the web of rules. Wilma Smilde, a WSO board member: ‘We created a page to explain the tangle of rules and laws about working in the Netherlands in an understandable fashion. Applying for a job is also way easier if you are an EU student. In general it’s hard to find a job through an employment agency, but that’s not the fault of the agencies. The problem lies with employers who can’t or won’t place international students for reasons like requiring them to speak or read Dutch. We are trying to contact companies and convince them that they could hire international students and arrange permits for them.’ Alexandra Branderhorst

Want to work at the university during the summer? email('student1.csa','wur.nl');
Student union WSO has info on rules: www.wau.nl/wso and click on Facilities.
Don’t mind working outside Wageningen? www.undutchables.nl

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