“You’re not leaving us, are you? These kinds of subtle jokes are made at the office on a regular basis”, says Hadassa Baars (19, Law and Business Administration). She works at an investment company in Rotterdam, where she carries out administrative tasks and maintains contact with clients. “My manager makes it clear that my efforts are appreciated by the company. For example, he often checks to see whether I’m happy here.”

Nicky van der Meer (19, Business Administration) also gets a similar level of appreciation in her part-time job as a waitress in a café. She notes that her work has become more flexible. “Nowadays, my employer doesn’t mind if you only want to work one day at the weekends, even though it’s the norm in the hospitality industry to work both days during that period.” She is also given the time she needs to focus on her studies: “When I have an exam week, my manager says: ‘Your education comes first.’ At work, they really like the fact that I’ll still be there in the summer.”

Keeping employees satisfied

The pressure on the labour market has never been so high. In the last quarter of 2022, there were 123 vacancies for every 100 unemployed people, much more than the average of 45 in the last ten years. According to Jan van Ours, professor of Labour Economics, employers are making more of an effort as a result of the shortages on the labour market. This ultimately leads to better jobs. “The best job market is one in which there is a shortage, because then employers have to compete for employees. They are partly doing this through the salary, but also partly by means of the working conditions. This increases the quality of the work.”

Van Ours approves of this accommodating approach on the part of employers: “I’m pleased that employers are taking the wishes of employees into account. An employer has many more ways to keep an employee happy than the other way around, so if an employer has to do their best to attract and retain an employee, I think that’s great.”


Students with part-time jobs are seeing staff shortages in all kinds of different sectors. Hadassa comes into contact with numerous startups through her work, and notes that there is a lot of demand for employees there: “Once you get a foot in the door somewhere, you gain a lot of contacts and hear about numerous shortages. I hear from lots of startups that they are now also hiring students to relieve the pressure.”

Education is one sector in which staff shortages have been the order of the day for years. Karlijn Kortleve (22) and Hiba Dadouch (24) see this in practice on a daily basis. The two Master’s students of Orthopedagogical Science work as primary school teachers alongside their studies. According to Hiba, “If someone is ill, children are divided between other classes or taught by someone who isn’t qualified. Sometimes they’re even sent home.” That means there is a lot of work available for Karlijn and Hiba. Technically speaking, they only teach one day a week but are often asked to stand in for other people.

Switching jobs

Nonetheless, the level of appreciation in the sector is disappointing: as yet, there are no bonuses or better working conditions to speak of for new teachers. Karlijn: “At most, you’ll get a bit of a head start on the housing market, but the allocation of housing isn’t going well yet.”

Due to the shortages in the education sector, many teacher training students are tempted to switch jobs, Karlijn says: “Almost everyone I speak to on our course says that they don’t want to spend five days a week in the classroom, and I feel the same.”

People are indeed changing jobs faster, as evidenced by figures from the UWV (Employee Insurance Agency). This applies in particular to people with a flexible employment contract, a temporary contract or those who are doing temp work, for example. Van Ours acknowledges that it is easier for employees to change jobs in order to find better working conditions elsewhere: “The content of a job is mainly determined by the employer. If you want something as an employee, you can vote with your feet.”


Students also want to work more flexibly, according to Micky Chan of Minite, a temporary employment agency on the campus that offers students freelance work that ties in with their studies. The co-founder explains how online temping platforms have introduced students to this concept. “In recent years, we’ve seen the rapid rise of Young Ones and Temper. Because of these platforms, young people have become accustomed to flexibility and higher wages.”

Employers are increasingly responding to the new working attitude of Gen Z, as Micky notes at her temping agency. “Companies sometimes say: ‘I’ve had an open vacancy for a junior developer for the past six months.’ Then we look at the vacancy and see that it’s compulsory to work in the office. That’s quite an outdated approach, so we get together with companies to see whether working in the office is really necessary.” She says that an increasing number of companies are becoming more flexible when it comes to working from home: “It’s a new job market and a new generation. Employers need to accept that times are changing.”

Better jobs

The ability to work flexibly and from home is also important for law student Fiona Verkerk (21). Alongside her job at the university’s Academic Affairs department, she also works as a tutor at Lyceo: “I can do a lot of the administrative work for Academic Affairs from home, which I really appreciate, and when I have exams my colleagues are very flexible.” She can also work flexibly as a tutor: “If I have a few days off, it’s easy for me to work extra hours.” This is because the tutoring company is also experiencing staff shortages: “I notice that we have a lot of vacancies and in addition, people often have to be scheduled last minute.”

Van Ours considers it a good development that employers must compete for employees: “It means that employers need to make more of an effort. Some productivity may be lost as a result, but that’s the natural course of things. It’s also part of progress, creative destruction. Jobs are getting better and better as a result.”

Fabian Dekker 0223-012_Levien Willemse

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