Recent HBO Monitor: Large share of nurses working below level despite strong labour market position

According to the latest figures from the HBO Monitor by the Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA) at Maastricht University, hbo graduates are in a strong position on the labour market. The survey, in which nearly 25,000 graduates from the 2021/2022 academic year took part, highlights how, eighteen months after graduation, hbo graduates are quickly and effectively employable on the labour market. With an unemployment rate of 2.8% in 2023, the same as the previous year, the outlook for recent graduates remains positive. In addition, 87.6% of graduates find a job immediately after graduation. Remarkably, 69% of this group have a permanent job within eighteen months, a significant increase compared to previous years. This trend is particularly visible in shortage sectors such as healthcare and education, where 78% and 76% of graduates secure permanent positions respectively. We also observe that graduates in these two sectors receive the highest gross hourly wages (€23.00 in healthcare and €23.40 in education) one and a half years after graduation.

Despite the fact that almost all graduates in the healthcare sector find a job almost immediately after graduation (95.3%), often have a permanent contract, and receive a relatively high gross hourly wage, we see that 23% of graduates from this group do not have a job that requires at least a hbo degree. The largest share of graduates from the healthcare sector obtained a hbo nursing diploma (47%). Within this group, we observe that 31% do not have a job requiring at least a hbo degree. This observation can possibly be explained by the fact that the professional differentiation for mbo- and hbo-educated nurses is not legally defined. In 2016, then-minister Schippers planned to enshrine professional profiles for mbo- and hbo-educated nurses in the so-called BIG II Act, but this act was ultimately not introduced. Facilitating job differentiation, where nurses have different tasks and competences, can help retain nurses. Job differentiation creates more development opportunities within the profession and ensures a better fit between the work content and nurses' education, competences and ambitions.