8 December 2015

Job opportunities through 2020 particularly in engineering and education

A total of 400,000 new jobs are expected in the Netherlands until 2020, which represents a growth rate of approximately 0.8% per year. This is one of the findings of the report entitled, 'The labour market by education and occupation through 2020' (De arbeidsmarkt naar opleiding en beroep tot 2020) by the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) at Maastricht University. Graduates from academic universities and universities of applied sciences have the best job prospects through 2020, with highly-educated engineers and IT professionals reaping the biggest benefits from the growing economy. Thanks to a growing replacement demand for teaching professionals, job prospects are also looking good for teachers and educators.

The biggest employment growth is expected in the construction sector and the specialised business services sector at an approximate rate of well over 2% a year. The hard economic times for the construction industry may soon be a thing of the past.

Compared to the average growth rate, major sectors such as education, healthcare and welfare will see considerably fewer job opportunities. And the public administration and government service sectors are expected to experience a contraction of 0.1% a year. This will have negative consequences for graduates with economic and administrative degrees.

Replacement to shape vacancies until 2020

More than 1.5 million employees will be replaced from now until 2020 as a result of changes in profession and permanent or temporary exits from the labour market. This will result in an annual replacement demand of 2.9%, which amount to about three-quarters of all new vacancies. The remaining quarter will involve expansion the current employment.

This expected replacement demand will be highest for the transport and logistics sectors and the agricultural sector. However, these professions tend to have a relatively high proportion of young workers with part-time jobs, who switch professions quite regularly. As a result, employers are not likely to experience staffing problems.

Academic perspectives per level

While the brunt of the economic crisis may seem to be behind us, the labour market perspectives are far from blooming for all graduates. This can be explained by the influx of high-level graduates into the labour market compounded by the now still large number of unemployed. The expansion of more highly-educated professionals is on the rise, which improves the prospects for graduates from academic universities and universities of applied sciences on the whole. The career prospects for graduates depend largely on academic level, with graduates who specialise in engineering, education and environment likely to reap the biggest benefits. The prospects for secondary vocational education graduates are average at best, with the exception of graduates at the Dutch MBO-4 level with a specialisation in environment and agriculture studies. Engineering graduates at MBO level 2, 3 and 4 also have reasonable prospects.

No problems for filling vacancies in healthcare sector

Government cutbacks are creating fewer opportunities for job growth in the healthcare and welfare sectors. With a large expected supply of graduates in the field of healthcare and welfare, employers in these sectors should find it relatively easy to find suitable candidates. However, filling vacancies for doctors and medical specialists might be harder. While the influx of technical graduates is expected to increase, demand will outweigh supply until 2020. This means employers may find it difficult to find highly-trained technicians and IT specialists, such as software and application developers.

Changes to the occupational structure

The average skill level of employees has increased by approximately 0.8 academic years since 1996, largely as a result of higher academic demands within the professions. Employment growth is strongly correlated with the problem-solving capabilities of the employees within these professions. One possible explanation for this is that complex techniques for information use and information processing are becoming increasingly important. The list of top ten fastest-shrinking professions from 1996 to 2014 consists exclusively of occupations at the intermediate preparatory vocational level and secondary vocational level (e.g., production machine operators and secretaries). This is most likely caused by the digitisation of routine tasks. That said, not all professions are under threat: the top ten list of fastest-growing professions includes jobs at both the higher professional education level (e.g., management consultants and organisational advisers) and the secondary vocational level (e.g., social workers, group workers and sheltered housing supervisors).

Disabled people hold a vulnerable position

The labour demand for occupationally disabled people (1.5 million in 2013) will stay the same or reduce in their key sectors of activity: industry, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, healthcare and welfare. This will make it difficult for them to keep their jobs. New entrants with disabilities may also be at a disadvantage when it comes to finding work in these sectors. The positive news is that the rental and business service sectors, which employ an above-average number of occupationally disabled people, are expected to grow significantly.

The full report entitled, 'The labour market: from education to occupation through 2020' can be downloaded or ordered on the ROA website (www.roa-maastricht.nl).​

Note for the press

For more information on the content of this press release, please contact Didier Fouarge on +31 43 388 3647 (outside office hours: +31 6 2822 9425) or email d.fouarge[at]maastrichtuniversity[dot]nl.

The UM Marketing & Communications Department can be contacted on +31 43 388 5222 or at pers[at]maastrichtuniversity[dot]nl. For urgent matters outside office hours, please call +31 6 4602 4992.