CPB points out the benefits of a balance between supply and demand on the job market. A better match between the two is good for the economy and society as a whole. So if companies show their keenness to attract new talent by offering higher salaries and plenty of opportunities, this should lead aspiring students to make the ‘right’ degree choice.

Far from perfect

But, as the CPB study published today shows, the market is far from perfect. For one thing, students appear to take little interest in what the market wants. Most of them opt for a degree programme that reflects their own interests and skills. The situation on the job market only comes into view further down the line.

This explains the friction highlighted by the CPB study. For years now, declining job opportunities and lower salaries have reflected the economy’s shrinking demand for university graduates. But: “University enrolments have actually risen slightly in recent years.”

Meanwhile, the education sector is crying out for graduates with a degree from a university of applied sciences. But even though starting salaries and job opportunities in education are high, the percentage of students who opt for teacher training has been decreasing for the past fifteen years.


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Mixed signals

In some cases, the job market gives off mixed signals. For instance, it is widely believed that the engineering sector is always eager to employ bright young professionals. The salaries and job prospects for university graduates bear this out. But for graduates from universities of applied sciences, starting salaries in engineering are average at best.

All things considered, however, the CPB study suggests that graduates have little cause to complain. With a degree from a higher education institution under your belt, the chance of finding a job has been between 90 and 95 percent for the past fifteen years. University graduates in language and culture almost always find work, even though market conditions in that sector are considered poor. The same goes for the surplus of economics graduates produced by universities of applied sciences.

In short, CPB sees ‘no structural relationship between job prospects and choice of degree programme’. But there is a catch: its study looked at sector figures. It could be that, within those sectors, students do keep one eye on the job market when choosing their degree.