Internationals are welcome at Voortman Steel Group

'Hiring people from abroad should be business as usual'

In short:

• The Voortman Steel Group employs 600 and 700 people worldwide - The Netherlands, France, England and America, to name a few.- working on complex steel construction projects and on the development of machines for the steel processing industry.

• The company from Rijssen wants to tap into the possibilities international employees offer. Vacancies for which Dutch is not a hard requirement are already being published in English.

Global Goal

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Seven different countries

A few years ago, HR departments received large numbers of responses after posting a vacancy online. That time is over. Companies have to pull out all the stops to find new employees and be creative in doing so. Voortman Steel Group in Rijssen sees value in focusing on international recruitment of personnel, especially in the field of software development.

“We already employ people from seven different countries in the software department alone,” says Dominic Stremmelaar, software manager at Voortman Steel Machinery. “For example, from Moldova, England, Iran, Vietnam and Poland. Until now, these colleagues have been hired through regular recruitment processes. They just walked in the door, so to say. In a few years’ time finding the right people will be the greatest challenge we, and others in the industry, will face. If we don’t start building the organizational skills to recruit abroad now, it’ll be too late he says. “It should become normal for companies to hire internationals.”

Working language is English

The working language in the software department of the internationally operating company is English. For years. The company has two branches: Voortman Steel Construction which is mainly active on the Dutch market and Voortman Steel Machinery that serves customers worldwide. 95% of our customers are international. “This explains why all our technical documentation in the software department is in English,” says Corporate Recruiter Sietse Koenjer.

Candidates who speak English are always welcome at the company. “Personnel is scarce on all fronts,” Dominic says. “But it is especially hard to find good software developers. Fortunately, we notice that once people work at Voortman they quickly settle in and remain for a long time. We pay a lot of attention to the development of our employees. Professionally, but also on a personal level and, for example, learning the Dutch language if there is a need for it. The work we do is technically complex, so not all software developers have the necessary skill set. But if they do, they find great challenges to work on at Voortman. We develop machines and machine lines for the steel processing industry that include processes like drilling, milling, sawing, plasma cutting and welding, to name few. As a software developer, you do not work with us on short-term machine projects, but you continuously work on improving the machine, PLC or cloud software. This long term view on quality appeals to most people.”

People understand each other

In the future, Voortman Steel Machinery will tap into the opportunities offered by the international labor market. The company is now investigating collaboration opportunities that can contribute to recruiting internationally  and will also investigate whether internships and/or traineeships can be combined with the office in England where software developers also work.

“We're not necessarily aiming for growing the number of people,” Dominic adds. “Here at Voortman, we have great ambitions and we do what we need to do to achieve these strategic goals. If we need to grow to make these goals a reality than that is what we do.”

Having different nationalities in the workplace creates a different atmosphere. “Still, the impact is minimal, in our experience ,” he says. “Sometimes it is difficult for internationals to communicate  what is needed. Or sometimes is difficult for them to express that they don’t understand something because of the cultural differences between their home country and the Netherlands. In general the team atmosphere or process is not impacted too much so things are going well. PLC development and .NET development are no different in the Netherlands than elsewhere in the world; these people understand each other no matter where they’re from.”

Date: 29 August 2022 |

Source of tekst: Voortman Steel Group |

Author: Maaike Thüss

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