The current crop of students will have an easier time finding a job than those who have graduated over the last few years. Over one in five students have a good job outlook, up from 6 percent just two years ago.

Until 2020 young university graduates will have a ‘reasonably good’ shot at a job, the Maastricht Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) predicted in its biennial report on recent graduates’ job outlook. 21 percent of people with a university degree even stand a ‘fair’ chance of landing a job, up from 6 percent just two years ago. The job market ‘is over the worst’, said ROA.

STEM studies (science, technology, engineering and maths) continue to be a good choice. Information technologists, especially, will have their pick of jobs upon graduation. And since many physicists and chemists look set to retire over the next few years, physics and chemistry students will not have to worry about finding a job, either.

Job mismatch

Medical students will have a fairly rough time of it, according to ROA, particularly since few doctors will be retiring over the next few years and the government is making budget cuts in the health care industry. On the other hand, out of all university graduates, people with a degree in medicine will continue to be the most likely to find a job at the right level of competence and within their own industry.

Students with a degree in the humanities (language or culture profile) are the most likely to end up in a job that does not match their degree. A whopping 42 percent of humanities graduates work below their level of competence, with 51 percent working in a different industry altogether. Social and behavioural sciences graduates are also more likely than other graduates to experience a job mismatch.

It should be noted that ROA admits that it is hard to match jobs to specific academic degree courses. Employers seeking to hire highly-educated people often have their pick of graduates from various educational backgrounds. For instance, many graduates of STEM studies will end up in business and not every university-trained journalist will want to end up working for a newspaper.

Getting a tertiary education

ROA’s figures also showed that it’s worth getting a tertiary education. Graduates of universities and universities of applied sciences have been less affected by the global financial crisis over the last few years than graduates of MBO (vocational degree) courses, and they will continue to be more likely to find a job over the next few years.

In addition, tertiary-educated employees tend to earn more than more than their non-tertiary-educated colleagues and are more likely to be offered a permanent contract and be promoted.