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ROA: even more work for academics

MAASTRICHT/THE NETHERLANDS. Engineers and IT experts are sitting pretty: in the coming years they will easily find employment. But the outlook on the labour market for psychologists and university lecturers has also improved.

These are some of the outcomes from the latest forecasts by Maastricht research centre ROA, which provides updates of its forecasts every other year. University graduates have slightly more chance of finding employment than previously thought.

The forecasts are partly the same as in 2015. Engineers and IT experts find jobs easily. For them, the labour market is still looking good, maybe even ‘very good’.

Remarkable is the change in psychology, about which there has been so much fuss recently. Two years ago, the situation for graduates was merely ‘reasonable’, but that has changed. The outlook is now good.

“Two years ago, there was a stack of cuts in the pipeline,” explains professor Didier Fouarge from Maastricht University, to which ROA belongs. “We took those into account and that had tremendous consequences for job opportunities. But policy makers don't always stick to what they say: the cuts were brushed aside. This may be a good thing, but it just makes it tough for me. I have to adjust my forecasts.”

For university lecturers, the forecasts have changed too (from moderate to good). “There are slightly fewer students in the programmes and demand is somewhat higher at the moment,” says Fouarge. “Schools want more academically educated teachers in the classroom. It is a small market, so something like this can make a huge difference.”

But if the information can change so easily, can we rely on it? Fouarge: “If you want to know something about the labour market in the next few years, you will have to base yourself on the best information available. That is why we update the forecasts, because they change.”

ROA's figures find their way to prospective students through websites such as studiekeuze123.nl and also through the education guides (Keuzegidsen) for higher education. “It is important to have these figures,” states Frank Steenkamp from Keuzegids, “but sometimes I get the feeling that these forecasts are somewhat formal and slightly other-worldly. There has been talk about a shortage of teachers for some time now. Maybe they need to make the database more dynamic and not wait two years between updates. The forecasts could also be more detailed, because it makes quite a difference if you are a teacher of classical languages or a teacher of Dutch.”

Students from universities of applied sciences also have more chance of finding work. The change is especially striking for physiotherapists and nurses. Two years ago, their outlook was ‘moderate’, according to ROA researchers, but not anymore. As a result of the turnabout in government policy, the outlook is now good.

HOP, Bas Belleman

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