The dutch dream; or why tech talent is moving to the Netherlands (and us too!)

The Netherlands has an acute shortage of tech talent, which will have to be filled by local new grads, career changers and international talent. High salaries and the best work-life balance worldwide are awaiting. And coding bootcamps are the fastest and most effective pathway to enter such a career in tech. Ironhack is opening a new campus in Amsterdam to prepare this new generation of digital creators for the Netherlands.

Ironhack, the global tech school, is launching a new campus in Amsterdam. Apply now!

You want to get a job in tech. First, stop being obsessed with Silicon Valley. And second, start looking to the Netherlands and considering it as your next move. Best talent is already doing so. And we just moved-in as well. Seriously, move here, now. You will not regret it, at all.

A huge tech-talent shortage: in Amsterdam there are x26 job vacancy openings per available junior tech worker

Still skeptical? Let’s start with the facts then.

1. Best European place to work in tech

Amsterdam is a magnet for tech talent. According to I Amsterdam there is a pool of over 250k tech workers in the city. With an urban population of around one million people, that means that c.25% of its population works in tech. Not bad, huh?

Hubspot already pointed it out in a recent survey: the dutch capital is “The best European Tech City to work in”. Surprised? Well, an average salary of tech workers of above €4k per month (net!) might have some guilt.

But there is more.

2. Best work-life balance, worldwide!

Times have changed. Quality of life matters, increasingly more than big pay-checks. And this is clearer for tech talent and millennial.

The Netherlands is a top candidate country for them. It is the only country in Europe with 3 cities in the top 15 rank of Quality of Life by Numbeo and ranks #1 country in the world for work-life balance by OECD, with only 0.5% of people working over 50 hours per week. If you add that the commuting times to work are among the lowest in the world and that the cost of living is substantially lower than in other developed hubs, we can further understand why people love living in this country. Put it simple: pay well and live well, this is the dutch formula to attract the best talent.

Where do I sign, boss?

3. Massive tech talent shortage

It is a fact: the Netherlands, and specially Amsterdam, is suffering a huge tech talent shortage. According to a recent report released by StartupAmsterdam and Amsterdam Economic Board the demand for junior tech talent doubled in 2017, reaching a shocking figure of x26 job vacancy openings per available junior tech worker. And according to Sterksen, in the Randstad area (the largest Dutch urban region including the major cities) 5 out of 6 tech jobs openings were not filled in 2016. Wait, whaaat? Looks right, companies are desperate to hire tech talent in the Netherlands, and you didn’t know it (yet)!

Among the tech talent software developers are still the most sought-after candidates, as well as data scientists, who are extremely hard to find. Atomico pointed out the ‘dutch tech talent boom’ in their latest report “The State of European Tech 2017”, estimating that Amsterdam has a community of over 90k software developers (vs. 67k in 2016), which means a year-on-year growth of +35% of developer community, the fastest growing in Europe together with Paris.

4. Huge variety of international tech companies. And growing!

Tech names fight for the best talent. And the Netherlands is becoming the scenario of this battle, specially Amsterdam, where companies are moving-in unexpectedly fast: the city is now home to over 600 international tech corporates, of which 170 have chosen Amsterdam for their worldwide headquarters. Actually, many of the Silicon Valley big names themselves are setting up in Amsterdam, including Google, Uber, Netflix, Salesforce, DoubleDutch or Cisco. And the Brexit will favor it even more.

It is easy to understand why international companies love the Netherlands (and Amsterdam) to locate. Among other reasons: the country’s basic and secondary education level is well above other European countries; 90% of population speaks English; it is the gateway to Europe with a unique and fast transport links at 2–3 hour trip distance to main cities in the continent; it is home to the world’s latest data-transport hub and fastest internet broadband; and it is the one of the fastest early-adopter tech population in the world, which makes the city a perfect testbed for tech ventures and new tech products!

What else do you need to know to “go dutch”?

5. Home of worldwide renown innovators

The Dutch are worldwide recognised for their entrepreneur and innovation spirit. Actually, the Netherlands has been home to some of the most relevant multinationals across industries, such ING Bank, Philips, Amstel Brewery, Heineken, Exor, KLM, KPMG, Rabobank, Randstad, TNT Express or Unilever, to name a few. And, obviously, the Dutch have been also first movers in startups since early 90s: Booking.com, TomTom, WeTransfer, Catawiki, Elastic, Takeaway.com, Shapeways, Travelbird, Ace&Tate or The Next Web have been leading players in their respective fields and shaped entire industries.

This is a country of entrepreneurs. It is not surprising then that Amsterdam, Eindhoven and The Hague are ranked #1, #2 and #3 in Europe, respectively, on “basic and post-school entrepreneurial education and training”, as pointed out by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. And why does this matter? Easy: make your way into the Dutch tech scene and there is a high chance you could take part of the next generation of industry shaping businesses!

6. A real tech community, committed and collaborative

This, with no doubt, is my favourite part of the Dutch tech scene, so far. The sense of community in the Dutch ecosystem is incredible. Once you land here you feel part of the family and receive huge support from different ends.

To give you a sense of it: in just 2 weeks since we arrived to Amsterdam we have been already welcomed by top entrepreneur communities in the city such StartupGrind and StartupWeekend Amsterdam (Techstars); by AMSxTech, the biggest and private slack community in the city; by top co-working spaces and community hubs such WeWork Metropool, TQ, B.Amsterdam, Rent24 and CIC Rotterdam; by the leading tech schools transforming entrepreneurial education such Growth Tribe, The Talent Institute and Restart.Network; by tech-specialised advisors such NewPeople and LXA; by leading Universities such us Hogeschool — University of Rotterdam; or by tech big corporates such as Atlassian and Unilever, to name a few!

Other players reshaping the local and global tech scene (and who we expect to meet soon) are the worldwide renown accelerators Rockstart, Startupboocamp and Collider; the science-specialised incubator ACE (Amsterdam Center for Entrepreneurship), the revolutionising training program Startup Foundation Experience, the national startup supporting community Founded in Holland, the country’s largest tech university Delft University of Technology, the smartest km² in the Netherlands High Tech Campus Eindhoven and top local VCs such us Prime Ventures, Endeit Capital, henQ and Peak Capital.

7. Public and private sectors working with one shared goal

But most importantly, what really sets the Netherlands apart from other tech hubs are the joint forces between public and private sectors to support new ventures, tech talent and entrepreneurs. Led by StartupAmsterdam and StartupDelta, the public and private sectors are working aligned to build unique initiatives to bring the best international talent to the country. Among other they launched:

  • The ‘Tech Housing’ project: a large tech house that will provide an easy soft-landing place for incoming tech talent as well as connecting these tech nomads with like-minded peers.
  • Project A: the Government is subsidising top international tech talent to fly-in to have them meet with Dutch tech companies and visit the country.
  • Reschooling programs: great support to tech related reschooling programs in fields of developing, growth hacking and UI/UX design. Examples of these are: BSSA and Growth Tribe.
  • Startup visa: A residence permit that gives ambitious international non-EU entrepreneurs a year to start an innovative company in the Netherlands.

In brief, the Netherlands is building strong pillars to become the friendliest city in the world for tech talent and entrepreneurs. Watch-out Silicon Valley!


So, are you ready to join the Dutch tech dream?

We can’t stress this enough. The Netherlands has an acute shortage of tech talent, and startups and tech companies are constantly searching for new talent. At the moment, the are x26 job vacancies for every junior tech worker. Yes, you read well. And you could be part of it.

The most sought-after role is software developer, followed by data scientist. Other specialty roles such as digital marketing or growth hacking are also in high demand. Junior entry level average salaries for these roles are usually €35k+ (among highest in Europe), with senior levels approaching to the €100k figure.

Ironhackers have diverse backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common: they are brave as hell!

How to become part of it?

Well, tech recruiters are no longer recruiting based upon educational background, but instead focusing on the programming skills of the potential recruits. Not surprisingly, the number of developers that dropout secondary education is larger than in any other industry. Then, a university degree is no longer a guarantee for success. You need to get real-life and tangible skills. We recommend:

  • Take an online course. This is the best way to discover your interests and skills-fit. There’s plenty of resources out there. Udemy and Lynda.com have excellent short online programs. Codeacademy is your best bet to start coding. Get a feel for the different disciplines, decide what you would like to specialize in, and then commit to it!
  • Join a tech bootcamp: once you have decided you area of expertise, a bootcamp will provide all the necessary skills you need to become very employable in a record time. You will learn skills that employers look for, stripping out the non-useful stuff and focusing on the most important aspects and immediately apply your new skills to solve real-world problems. We recommend you make your own due diligence when choosing the bootcamp (Switchup and Coursereport are the reference directories to compare bootcamps). It is very important you feel comfortable with the value (and return on your time and money invested!) you will received from such an intensive experience.

If you are looking for web-development and UX/UI bootcamps, we have good news: we are launching a new campus in Amsterdam! Ironhack begs to differ, as we are obsessed to build the best tech school worldwide. We are top ranked by SwitchUp and Coursereport, and we provide high-impact, condensed educational experiences designed to get you from zero to job-ready in 3 months. We’ve taught 1.500+ Ironhackers globally already with a c.90% placement rate after bootcamp. Our graduates are being employed by the top tech companies worldwide. We are already operating in Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, Mexico, Miami and Sao Paolo, and have huge plans for the campus in Amsterdam!


If you want to learn and to try our educational experience for free, you can join our Ironhack Amsterdam Meetup group and stay tuned for the free workshops we host every couple of weeks. Feel free to visit us in person (email to alvaro.gonzalez@ironhack.com to schedule an in person meeting) or ask more detailed info about the program at www.ironhack.com.