Many newcomers have work experience and would like to work in the Netherlands, but have difficulty with the Dutch language. On the other hand, there are many IT job opportunities suitable for newcomers. Achmea, NewBees and the Refugee Talent Hub organize a program in which a group of four status holders go to work in the IT department at Achmea for a year and receive guidance in professional development and language. At the end of the year, there is a possibility for contract extension. Duaa Ashtar is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Artificial Intelligence at the VU in Amsterdam. She also works one day a week as a matcher at NewBees, where she supervises the participants of this program.
Duaa: “I plan weekly one-on-one meetings with each participant and monthly intervision moments in the form of group guidance. These consist of workshops about working in the Netherlands and working at Achmea. The participants bring in topics, based on what they experience themselves. What do they find difficult? Which obstacles do they encounter? What can I do for them? What can Achmea do better? I ask them what they need and I make sure there is time and room for discussion.”
How do you interract with colleagues in the Netherlands?
“How to interract with colleagues is a recurring topic. How do you start a conversation? What topics can you discuss with colleagues? One participant felt somewhat isolated. I discussed with him another participant’s suggestion to schedule short coffee dates with his colleagues, during breaks at work, in order to get acquainted. Two weeks later during our one-on-one meeting, he said: “I had a buddy who helped me a little. Now the entire team is my buddy!” He beamed! Language is often a barrier. That is why it is great that Achmea also offers the participants an intensive language course.”
“When I notice that people feel safe and comfortable with their work, that they understand their tasks and their possibilities, then I feel happy and think that I am doing my job well.”
Tailor-made, close and personal
“Each participant requires a different personal approach. Some people are open, share everything, propose their own solutions and ask me directly to fix things for them. In order to get information from participants who are more closed, I ask open questions, I tell stories. I use my own experience as a newcomer in the Netherlands, my knowledge of the IT jargon and my expertise as a matcher at NewBees. The focus on people and providing personal and close attention is at the heart of what NewBees does. I apply this method in this program.”
“I am much younger than the participants I supervise. In the beginning I wondered whether they would trust me. So far it works. When I notice that people feel safe and comfortable with their work, that they fully understand their tasks and their possibilities, then I feel happy and I think that I am doing my job well. If they get a contract extension, then it’s fantastic!”
More information about the project can be found at here.
Duaa Ashtar (24) was seventeen when she came to the Netherlands. In Syria, her native country where she grew up, Duaa was the top student in her class and only got high grades. In the Netherlands she was not immediately allowed to go to a regular high school. She first went to the ISK (Internationale Schakelklas) to learn Dutch. She studied hard and within two years she got her HAVO diploma and went on to the VWO. She exchanged her childhood dream of becoming a doctor for a bachelor’s degree in Artificial Intelligence. In September 2021, Duaa started as a matcher at NewBees at the location in Haarlemmermeer. A year later she was asked to participate in a project of Refugee Talent Hub in collaboration with NewBees in which she supervises newcomers during their apprenticeship as IT specialists at Achmea.