Most HBO graduates land on their feet after five years

Graduates of higher vocational education (HBO) in the Netherlands have good career prospects, according to the 2015 HBO Monitor. For the first time, the monitor surveyed graduates about their experiences not only 18 months but also five years after graduation. This approach yielded longitudinal data that are unique for the HBO sector and make it possible to follow individual career paths. Eighty percent of Dutch HBO institutes participated in the study, which was conducted by the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) at Maastricht University. The report concluded that the labour market position of HBO graduates is stronger five years rather than shortly after graduating.

From bleak to positive
Half of those graduates who were gloomy about their career prospects in 2011 were much more positive in 2015. Rightly so, because 75% of those with no prospect of a permanent appointment in 2011 held a permanent job in 2015. This is partly thanks to the economic recovery, but also to the graduates’ growing competences; the proportion of graduates who manage other employees, for instance, increased by almost 10% during this period.

Suitable job
The study also shows that the vast majority of graduates who were unemployed a year after completing their study programme had found work five years after graduating. Moreover, more than half of this group were working at HBO level, suggesting that those who had a poor start had managed to catch up with their peers. Of the graduates who immediately found a job in their own field and at HBO level, 89% still held a relevant job four years later and 92% still at HBO level. Only 2% were unemployed.

Low-level starting jobs
Do you know someone still working in their student job at the pub or in a call centre a year after graduating because they haven’t been able to find something more suitable? Don’t worry! Chances are they will eventually land on their feet. The study shows that half of this group (53%) held a job at HBO level five years after graduating. A further 15% were working in their fields, albeit not at HBO level.

The number of self-employed graduates in the language and culture sectors dropped sharply between 2011 and 2015, from roughly 6 in 10 to 4 in 10. This is probably related to the cuts in the cultural sector as of 2013, including the phasing out of grants, which made it more difficult for artists to start or continue their own initiatives. In the agriculture sector, however, the number of self-employed people rose in the same period. One explanation may be that many farmers first gain experience in a different company before taking over the family business.


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