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Five Spanish jobseekers look to Dutch farms
Recruiting cowmilkers to work abroad may well be a first for EURES in Spain, but the recent hiring of five Spanish workers on a Dutch farm shows that the job mobility network can succeed in any field.
A chance meeting between Henk van Soest, a recruiter based in Spain but with clients on the Netherlands-Germany border, and Spanish EURES Adviser Manuel Zazo Cardeñosa led to a fruitful partnership with unusual results. Henk was meeting another Adviser about finding workers for shipbuilding when Manuel joined them for coffee. It soon became clear that Manuel’s largely rural Cáceres province might be able to supply the farmhands that Henk needed for a different project.
While Henk’s company Trabajarenholanda is used to recruiting engineers and healthcare professionals for employers in the Netherlands and Germany, one of its smaller projects posed the biggest challenge: finding farmhands for a dairy farm in Holland. “Normally I work on much bigger projects, but this was one I really enjoyed doing,” he recalls.
Manuel was first asked to locate a farm in Spain where prospective farmhands’ skills could be put to the test. Once a milking parlour had been secured, he was able to advertise the positions. The response to such a niche job description was surprisingly strong: more than 100 applicants.
Henk selected 12 candidates to interview last October. They were called for a trial milking, and while all performed well, just five could be selected. The successful candidates only started their new positions in May – after months of German language tuition before leaving Spain. Their farm manager speaks German.
“We’re quite happy with their performance so far, and recruitment of a second group of farmhands in now underway,” says Henk. “It’s a big dairy farm with 1 000 cows, so there is plenty of work to go around.” Having started to learn a new language – as well as the ways of a Dutch farm – it is hoped that the workers will stay with their employer for three years at least.
In the meantime, Henk returns to his more conventional recruitment projects: recently 15 nurses started a six-month training programme in Madrid, in preparation for positions awaiting them in the Netherlands. It is expected that a second group of 15 nurses will follow them later. “Whether it’s farmhands, engineers or healthcare workers, I aim to set up a long-term relationship between employer and employee,” he says.