Expat Jobs in Groningen - Employers for English Speakers
Working in Groningen, the Pride of the North
If you’re thinking of working in Groningen, the chances are strong that you already have a specific company or job in mind. However, it’s still good to know more about the possibilities for other jobs in Groningen, and which companies are located here – just in case.
Maybe you’ll be thinking of changing your career at some point, or perhaps you have a partner who will want to look for work?
Either way, having a solid grasp of the kinds of work available, and the jobs in Groningen for English speakers specifically, can be a real advantage!
The economy in Groningen
Groningen has an impressively ancient history. One local legend claims that the city was founded in 453 BC, when exiles from Troy and Phrygians from Germany were led by someone called ‘Gruno’ to form the first settlement. This grew over time into the city it is today.
In fact, the area has been inhabited since at least 3650 BC, and the city itself is documented as far back as 1040 AD.
Today, the city has grown to become a major hub that employs more than 150,000 people across numerous industries, and is home to four universities. It is regarded as the economic powerhouse of the north.
It’s the capital of a province (with the same name) that’s well-located for access to Germany, and the rest of the Netherlands. The province of Groningen has a modest rate of economic growth which is driven by solid fundamentals. More than 57,000 companies are registered in the region, and this increases by about 3-4% each year.
Of these, more than 21,000 are registered in the municipality (Groningen city) itself, divided into several main sectors, below.
Number of Companies in the city of Groningen in 2021, per sector (source: CBS, Statline):
Of course, the number of companies in Groningen doesn’t automatically translate to a proportional share of the jobs and GDP generated by those sectors.
Some sectors generate a lot more jobs in Groningen compared to others. According to the municipality of Groningen, the most important sectors in the region are:
Agriculture (and agri-business)
Health and Life (esp. healthy ageing)
Chemistry (inc. advanced materials)
The overall GDP (BRP or bruto regionaal product, in Dutch) of the region is very strong, and the province boasts an annual GDP of €24 billion (2018), with the fifth-largest GDP per capita in the Netherlands. As you can imagine, behind this impressive output is a lot of jobs in Groningen for skilled workers like you.
Jobs in Groningen
Overall, there are fewer jobs in Groningen for expats compared to the major cities in the Randstad. The province also has the highest unemployment rate in the Netherlands, at 4.5% in 2020. However, the job market is still very strong for skilled workers.
The job market in Groningen is undergoing a transition as gas extraction is phased out. This sector provided a lot of wealth and employment to the region, but it is now becoming less significant as an employer.
Instead, a more prominent role is being taken by new tech companies that are creating new jobs in Groningen and the surrounding area. The area of digital innovation and technology is being actively promoted in the region, and this sector is growing fast.
The right skills are always the most important factor in hiring in these kinds of industries, so even if you don’t speak Dutch you have a great chance of securing a job if you’re a strong candidate.
Are there many jobs in Groningen for English speakers?
Let’s be frank here. Overall, the city of Groningen offers less jobs for English speakers than Amsterdam or Rotterdam.
However, this doesn’t mean your chances of getting a job as an English speaker are zero.
The level of English is generally very good, but there are numerous schools that specialize in teaching English in Groningen (some are connected to the universities here). In fact, universities across the Netherlands are increasing the number of courses that they are teaching entirely in English, and this requires proficient English speaking faculty members. This is certainly one area where it’s possible to find jobs in Groningen for English speakers, however teaching may not be your area of expertise.
As already mentioned, the high-tech and innovation sector is expanding quickly in the province. These companies tend to have highly-educated staff who are happy to welcome English speaking job candidates - if the skills are right.
As an English speaking expat, your best chance of finding a job that suits you is to register with an agency – especially one that specializes in expats and English speakers.
Good news: The region is actively investing in attracting talented workers from around the world, and it provides support for English speakers who are looking to work in the city. Two useful resources for English speakers who are looking for a job in Groningen are the ‘Make it in the North’ and the ‘International Welcome Center North’, both of which aim to help expats settle easily and find work. The latter also provides advice for what to do if you become unemployed.
Companies in Groningen
There are some major companies based in Groningen, and these provide a large portion of the overall employment.
Some of the biggest companies in Groningen are:
University of Groningen
Universitair Medische Centrum Groningen
There’s also a growing list of more than 350 up-and-coming, innovative tech companies in Groningen, including:
Shine Medical Technologies
Bossers & Cnossen
The fast-moving digital and innovation sector is also one that is prone to rapid growth – this means there’s always new jobs being created in these areas.
How to find work in Groningen
When looking for employment, you will want to try every avenue possible for finding a suitable position. Finding work in Groningen may be more challenging if you don’t speak Dutch, but this simply means that you need to be realistic and targeted.
Approach companies directly, if they interest you. Many companies are happy to receive a speculative application and it demonstrates that you have an active interest in their company.
Employment agencies are also a tremendous resource, and these can lead to permanent positions if everyone is happy with the arrangement. Many companies use employment agencies as a way of de-risking their human resources department and payroll. As a permanent employee, you will have more rights than a temporary worker, so companies are cautious about who they offer permanent contracts to. By hiring via an employment agency, the company is able to give you a trial-run, without the costs of drawing-up a permanent contract or the risk of hiring someone unsuitable (who is then hard to get rid of).
If you are from outside the EU or EEA, you will need a work permit before you can work in the Netherlands. Any employer will want to see that you have the right to work here before offering a job, so make sure this is arranged beforehand.
You should also search online for jobs within your specialism, and specifically for jobs in Groningen and the surrounding area. This has the advantage of being a fast process, as you only need to upload and send a CV and motivation letter – which can be done in minutes.
Stay strong, and keep looking
There are fewer international companies and fewer jobs in Groningen generally. This makes job-hunting an arduous task that requires strength and persistence.
If you work in the IT, Medical Research, or Science sectors you have the best chances of finding work in Groningen.
Make sure your skills are up to scratch and that you have a recognized qualification – enrolling in a course that affirms your skills can help prove your commitment to a Dutch employer, and if you are currently learning Dutch in a recognized course you have a better chance than someone who has no Dutch skills whatsoever.
Success will be yours if you stay strong and persist with your job search. Reach out to any contacts in your network and branch out by making new ones via social media like LinkedIn. Many Dutch people are very friendly and open to the idea of offering advice – this can open the doors to new possibilities and connections too. Good luck!