The new Elsevier hit the shelves today with the Study and Work 2018 survey carried out with research agency SEO. The survey shows how both recent graduates and graduates who received their degrees ten years ago are performing in the labour market.

Objective data

The research is no longer based on surveys. For the past two years, SEO’s researchers use objective anonymised data on study programme, work and income based on the citizen service number, originating from Statistics Netherlands.

The microdata of no less than 1,140,223 university and university of applied sciences graduates was analysed for the graduation years spanning 2004-2005 through 2016-2017. The calculation of the salary is carried out using figures provided by the Tax and Customs Administration.

The most important findings: university of applied sciences graduates take 5.7 months on average to find a substantial job with a decent salary (above the minimum) for at least three days a week. University graduates take one month less for the same.

Significant differences

Significant disparities between study programmes persist: doctors and dentists find a job within six weeks while linguists and historians take almost a year. University of applied sciences graduates in healthcare and engineering are able to find an employer almost as quickly as just before the crisis ten years ago.

A rise in the average gross salary is taking place at an ‘excruciatingly’ sluggish pace. But for both university of applied sciences graduates and university graduates, there is a long way to go before pre-2008 levels, corrected for inflation, are reached. Before the economic crisis, entry-level workers with a university of applied sciences background earned 2,446 euro gross compared to 2,186 euros now. For university graduates, the figures are respectively 2,878 euro and 2,641 euro per month.

Elsevier concludes that the scarcity of highly educated workers is apparently not so severe as to prompt employers to pay higher salaries. “Despite all the complaints of shortages of personnel in the education, healthcare or technology sectors, this hasn’t resulted in a more gratifying payslip for university or university of applied sciences graduates”.

Top earners

Looking at university graduates in salaried employment who graduated ten years ago, those with a master degree in finance or econometrics have the highest salary: around 6,000 euro gross per month.
University graduates in media studies or linguistics are less fortunate. After ten years, they still earn less than three thousand euros.

The top earners among university of applied sciences graduates are those who graduated from the navigation and marine engineering programme or the operational technology programme, with a wage of 4,500 euro gross per month. Dancers or skin therapists have to make ends meet with 2,100 euro monthly after ten years.

Notably, Elsevier referred specifically to the labour market position of primary school teachers: they find jobs quickly for average pay. After ten years, most of them also have a permanent appointment, “but the idea they are in high demand in the labour market is not reflected in their payslip”. Their monthly income of 2,363 euro stands in stark contrast to other teachers with a university of applied sciences background who earn three to four thousand euro ten years after graduating.

Differences per institution

Elsevier also provides insight into differences per institution. For example, an economist who graduated from the University of Amsterdam ten years ago earns considerably more than an economist from Utrecht University: an average difference of no less than 819 euro per month. For healthcare graduates, the situation is reversed. Utrecht University graduates earn 753 euro more than graduates with an UvA degree.

In university of applied sciences study programmes in physics, environmental science and chemistry, graduates from the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences are the highest earners (3,405 euro), while those from the NHL University of Applied Sciences earn the least: 2,968 euro.

Elsevier identifies three reasons for these differences. First, there is the effect of regional labour markets. A university of applied sciences graduate who studies and then works in Friesland earns less than someone in the Randstad. Second, there is the quality and motivation of students: what is their priority? The salary or the nature of their work? And finally, the quality of the study programmes accounts for the differences: some study programmes prepare students better for a well-paid job than others.