All initiatives in one place

The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area has more than 120 programmes for training, retraining and talent development, many of them focused on the tech sector. By presenting all talent initiatives on one platform, TOMAS connects supply and demand, offering a handy overview of what’s available and enabling direct access. In the process, the project aims to bolster the tech and startup labour market, as ever more tech talent is needed to support the digital and energy transition. Achieving a more diverse and inclusive tech sector is the hoped-for additional effect.

A visible and accessible ecosystem for talent development

image by: Brenda de Vries

The platform is a partnership between the Amsterdam Economic Board, the City of Amsterdam, the Digital Society School of the AUAS, the Metropolitan Region Amsterdam and StartupAmsterdam. “TOMAS is a B2B platform and offline community that makes the talent development ecosystem visible and accessible for businesses, initiatives and governments,” says Igneta Skliaustyte, Talent & Diversity Lead at StartupAmsterdam and one of TOMAS’ co-founders. To businesses, says Skliaustyte, TOMAS offers resources to access a “reskilled and upskilled workforce and opportunities to contribute to the talent ecosystem.” She adds that initiatives can gain recognition and partnerships based on their growth needs, and local governments will get insights about talent development so they can make more structured investments and informed decisions. “Tomas aims to be the meeting point between governments, companies and talent initiatives,” says Bas Beekman, director of StartupAmsterdam. “Through its innovative platform, it will assist in bringing these stakeholders closer together – not only digitally, but also offline, through events and in-depth meetings.”

Taking a strategic approach

TOMAS came about after involved parties, including Skliaustyte, diagnosed the need to unify the many existing initiatives to avoid diffusion and ineffectiveness. “I spoke to nearly 50 different talent initiatives to learn about their challenges and growth needs,” says Skliaustyte, “and it was obvious that in order to leverage what we already have and at the same time spot the gaps in the supply, we needed a more strategic, centralised way of working with each other.” By bringing together the more than 120 talent initiatives, TOMAS’ makers hope to provide access to the entire landscape and enable an efficient, data-driven approach to talent development, which in turn will enable businesses to make ‘tailor-made’ investments. Business, educational institutions and government organisations will be able to find just the right partners, seamlessly connecting supply and demand for training and retraining programmes. 

Solving the talent mismatch

“Companies will be provided with an overview of where they can easily find the right people with the right skills,” says Beekman. “At the same time, the talent initiatives can get direct insights into the talent needs of these companies, so they know precisely what kind of talent is needed in the local ecosystem and what type of skillset they have to teach. All of that is directly connected to the City, since it will assist in solving the current mismatch in the labour market.” Skliaustyte adds: “A lot has been done already to combat the mismatch in the labour market: public-private partnerships like House of Digital or House of Skills, action programmes like TechConnect and EQUALS, over 20 coding academies, including Codam and Codaisseur, diversity and inclusion ambassadors in tech, such as Code to Change, Hack Your Future or Techionista, education funds like TechMeUp, and network organisations like Amsterdam School of Data Science. As the number of these initiatives grew, it became harder to benefit from it.”

Get involved

In the coming months, the makers of TOMAS aim to activate all the existing talent initiatives in tech; the goal for 2022 is to facilitate a minimum of 50 partnerships that efficiently match talent supply and demand – with a particular focus on inclusive and diverse teams. “Furthermore, TOMAS will be co-organising various matchmaking and networking events,” says Skliaustyte. “We are looking for enthusiastic companies that would like to be involved and benefit from the local talent pools.” As ever, partnerships and interaction are the key to success. “For TOMAS to reach its full potential, cooperation between businesses, talent initiatives and the government is essential.”