Win-win for port and status holders

16 February 2023
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Helping status holders get jobs while finding well-qualified staff for companies in and around the port of Rotterdam. That is the dual goal of Port of Opportunities, which has now helped some 20 professionals get a job. The Port Authority set up this initiative together with Watertalent and already found three new employees itself. Majed Cori is one of them.

Majed and Arjan
Majed (left) and Arjan (photo Bart Jacobs)

Majed is a civil engineer. He fled his home country of Syria in 2018 and started working here as a work planner. He learned the Dutch language and now Majed is working as a designer at the Port of Rotterdam Authority via Port of Opportunities. ‘I am happy to have the opportunity to practice my craft again,’ says Majed. ‘The world of quay walls, mooring facilities, bollards and other port objects is new to me, but thanks to my civil-engineering knowledge and experience with Autocad, I learn quickly. The dimensions in the port are different from the objects in Syria, where the tallest building I worked on is about 20 metres. Fortunately, my new colleagues help where they can. This allows me to master the port world and its jargon. In Syria, I was a project manager at a civil engineering company. When war broke out, I started helping people who had become homeless at the risk of my life. However, because of that war, later the chances for me to work just disappeared.’ When Majed came to the Netherlands, he immediately started taking Dutch lessons. ‘That is my tip to other status holders: learn the language as soon as possible. It will increase your chances in the Netherlands and give you more peace of mind. Because when you speak Arabic at home, English at work and Dutch in everyday life, it gets crowded in your head.’


At the Port Authority, Majed is an Autocad drafter of port objects. In Syria, he was both a designer, planner and executor of technical projects. ‘It is not easy to fulfil the same roles here because my education is not recognised or acknowledged here. I hope this opportunity will allow me to prove my expertise and expand my area of expertise.’

Scarcity on the labour market

Port Authority Social Innovation Consultant Arjen van Tilborg: ‘The Port of Rotterdam Authority wants to increase employment opportunities for status holders in the Rotterdam area. The current situation in Ukraine combined with the tight labour market offer opportunities to do so. Together with Watertalent, we devised the idea Port of Opportunities. We got right to it and we already have 20 matches. Our goal is to reach 100 matches within a year.’

‘Port of Opportunities is a project primarily aimed at enthusing status holders for a job or apprenticeship within the port of Rotterdam,’ says consultant Renée Rotmans, who together with Arjen forms the Social Innovation team. ‘In addition, we are trying to convince employers in the port of Rotterdam to offer status holders an opportunity within their organisation. This allows us to match status holders to employers in the port of Rotterdam and guide them in their personal and professional development.’

The social task of employing more status holders in the port of Rotterdam has prompted the construction of a community which employers can join to contribute to a more inclusive labour market. Renée: ‘Port of Opportunities is also supported by other partners in the region, making it part of the new Human Capital Coalition Energy Transition (HCCE) signed in January by government, education and business in the Rotterdam region.’