Students help SMEs with concrete solutions for their digitization

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Knowledge, tools and skills for the SME entrepreneur who wants to increase and optimize his digital activity. It is the result of a unique collaboration between educational and knowledge institutions and the North Dutch SMEs in XS Talent Studio. This is a breeding ground for digital technology located in Cupola XS, the former Dome prison in Haarlem.

XS Talent Studio unites knowledge and educational institutions at different levels and other parties with a focus on talent development to better adapt education to business practices, to improve the learning culture of SMEs and to promote mutual learning.

Works on specific issues related to SMEs
Project manager Joost Reimert from MKB Digital Workspace, one of the partners in XS Talent Studio: “It is a collaboration that should give students in education a real opportunity to work on specific issues that SMEs need to address. Students solve these in the form of a task. Knowledge of an educational institution goes directly to the business community. It is a unique opportunity to involve new talent in your company’s issues. In particular, we hope to lower the barrier for teachers to work on real SME issues in their education. It is very educational for the students, they enjoy it a lot and small and medium sized businesses have been helped tremendously with the extra work and brain power. XS Talent Studio is the first physical workplace where students work and learn in a corporate environment instead of a teaching location. An additional dimension that we want to create is that students and educators from MBO to HBO and university work together. It has never been seen before.

Cooperation between different levels of education
Thijs Zegers is training manager e-commerce at ROC of Amsterdam and enthusiastic about the new collaboration: “The purpose and activity of the XS Talent Study fit well into our e-commerce education, where people naturally like to work with practical cases. A number of our trainees and even our teachers will soon be working there, but also from other courses, levels and knowledge institutions. It’s really unique to Holland. It would be great if our MBO-4 students collaborate more often with HBO students and also coordinate teachers more closely. Knowledge institutions also learn from each other.

Strengthen partnerships and embed this approach to education
Nova College is an ROC in Haarlem and the surrounding area. As a program manager, Johan Sloesen is closely involved in the XS Talent Study and sees it as ‘the next’, where there is literally a buzz with many companies close to each other. †Our goal is to strengthen partnerships with companies in this way. We want to make the many loose collaborations with companies more sustainable and more intensive. These are internships but also projects in the field of education. Affiliation with other knowledge institutions is also a reason to participate. Students and teachers can use the workplaces in Koepel and meet each other. This allows us to offer a much more practical learning experience. Hopefully we will succeed in anchoring this collaboration permanently in our education.

Education at the heart of the labor market
Knowledge broker Yvonne Leegwater from Inholland University of Applied Sciences: “At Inholland, we want our students to get more out of the classroom to work in practice. Like an inspiring place and in an entrepreneurial community like Cupola XS. Companies can collaborate with students in many ways. Think about internships, innovation internships, small projects or a research question. It’s a win-win situation, and that’s how we create lasting relationships with the business community. We also offer students a place where they learn what attitude is expected in business and where they can build their network. Above all, it is the intensity of this project that makes it unique. Education in the middle of the labor market of the future.

Access to cases and collaboration knowledge institutions
Stijn van der Krogt is the academic director of Haarlem Campus, a new educational and knowledge institution: “We will provide real education within the Dome. In four years, the department will grow to 650 students, half of whom are international. In the courses, we combine business and technology and there is extra attention to competencies such as digitization, entrepreneurship and intercultural awareness. The campus starts with the bachelor’s programs in Business Psychology, Creative Media and Digital Transformation Management. The students work continuously with the business community on cases. You can find these cases in XS Talent Studio. In addition, I hope that companies will seek collaboration with knowledge institutions. We also want teachers to investigate problems in SMEs. This is important for the quality of education and useful for business and policy makers focusing on the development of SMEs.

Ensure that the learning culture of SMEs changes
I.AM Digital’s ambition is to prepare one million professionals for the future with digital data within three years. Iris Koolen, founder: “Our short program enables professionals to see new developments faster and understand the impact on their careers. From XS Talent Studio we test new programs with a small number of professionals per field. Then we make it more widely available in that field. Within XS Talent Studio, we also seek collaboration with knowledge institutions. Once a company is aware of the new opportunities to work more data-driven, it often also needs new talent. Furthermore, XS Talent Studio is truly a center of lifelong development. Events and Digital Skills Day ensure that the learning culture in business changes.

Our young people continue to grow in the XS Talent Studio
Triple Threat is a social initiative aimed at young people who are active in neighborhoods where much diversity, minorities and families with less capacity grow up, ”Said founder Philip Schemmekes. †In a career-oriented entrepreneurship, learn to be self-reliant by starting your own business. We usually do this from our location in the Schalkwijk shopping center. A safe and creative place, but at some point the young people have to move on. In the XS Talent Study, the young people receive training every Monday night, and they can work for several months in an environment with other companies, learn to behave there and build their network. In short, grow in their personal development.

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