The Dutch battle for highly skilled migrants: policy, implementation and the role of social networks


  • Isik Kulu-Glasgow Research and Documentation Centre (WODC), The Hague
  • Djamila Schans Research and Documentation Centre (WODC), The Hague
  • Monika Smit Research and Documentation Centre (WODC), The Hague



highly skilled migrants, highly educated migrants, social capital, migration policy, The Netherlands


In recent years a growing competition for talent has emerged among developed nations. Policymakers across North-America, Australia and Europe have implemented targeted migration programs to attract global talent in order to gain the net positive effects associated with skilled migration. Research so far has mainly focused on analyzing such programs in traditional destinations for highly skilled migrants such as the United States, Canada and Australia. In this article we take the Netherlands as a case study of the more recent European involvement in the ‘race for talent’. We first describe how ‘highly skilled’ migrants are categorized in the various skilled migration schemes that exist in the Netherlands. Secondly, by using primary data on highly-skilled migrants who participated in one of these schemes we look at whether the policy measures attracted the intended target group. We conclude that policy measures that favor highly skilled migrants by themselves are not enough to attract talent. Having social capital in the Netherlands as well as the recruiting efforts of Dutch employers are more important in attracting highly skilled migrants. Also, being highly skilled does not necessarily mean that access to the Dutch labor market is without obstacles.


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How to Cite

Kulu-Glasgow, I., Schans, D., & Smit, M. (2018). The Dutch battle for highly skilled migrants: policy, implementation and the role of social networks. Migration Letters, 15(4), 517–532.