Recent HBO Monitor: Strong Labor Market Position of HBOs and Stable Prospects

According to the latest figures from the HBO Monitor by the Research Center for Education and the Labor Market (ROA) at Maastricht University, college graduates are in a strong position in the labor market. Barbara Belfi, project manager and researcher at ROA, mentions, "With an unemployment rate of 2.8% in 2023, the same as the previous year, the outlook for recent graduates remains positive." It is noteworthy that 69% of this group have a permanent job within a year and a half, a significant progress compared to previous years." This trend is particularly evident in healthcare and education, where 78% and 76% of graduates secured permanent positions, respectively. We also see that graduates in these two directions receive the highest gross hourly wages a year and a half after graduation. The study, in which nearly 25,000 graduates from the 2021/2022 academic year participated, highlights how college graduates are making themselves quickly and effectively employable in the labor market a year and a half after graduation, especially in high-demand sectors.

Shortage sectors

Despite the fact that almost all graduates in the health care direction find a job almost immediately after graduation, often have a permanent position, and receive a relatively high gross hourly wage, we see that 23% of graduates from this group do not have a job at least at the college level. The largest proportion of graduates from the health care direction took the college nursing program (47%). Within this group, we observe that 31% do not work at a minimum college level. This observation might 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 the occupational profiles for MBO- and HBO-educated nurses in the BIG II law, but this law was ultimately not introduced. Facilitating job differentiation, in which nurses have different tasks and competencies, can help retain nurses. Indeed, job differentiation provides more development opportunities within the profession and ensures a better fit between the work content and nurses' education, competencies and ambitions.

HBO Monitor Reveals: Independence and Flexibility Prime, Communication Could Be Better

How well does higher education prepare students for the complex demands of our rapidly evolving job market and society, changed by technology such as AI and other global trends? The HBO Monitor shows what skills graduates consider essential in their current jobs. Working independently is seen as the number one skill across all sectors, followed by flexibility and communication, alternately in second and third place. Although graduates report feeling competent in working independently and flexibility, they identify a lack of communication skills in their jobs. This appears to be true across all sectors and thus highlights areas in which the college curriculum could be improved to better prepare graduates for their future careers.

Educational Choice Colours Career Path: Impact of HBO-Variants on Labor Market

The latest edition of the HBO-Monitor pays special attention to the labor market outcomes of the various hbo education variants: the traditional bachelor's, the innovative Associate degree (Ad since 2011), and the challenging master's (since 2002). The analysis shows that, consistent with the increase in program duration, hbo masters significantly outperform their bachelor's and Ad counterparts. For example, one and a half years after graduation, college masters experience the least unemployment (Ma: 1.9%; Ba: 2.9%; Ad: 2.6%), are most often in permanent employment (Ma: 80%; Ba: 68%; Ad: 72%), and enjoy the highest average gross monthly wages (€3,807, compared to €3,204 for bachelors and €3,187 for Ads). These findings confirm that both Master's and Associate degrees have successfully secured their intended place in the labor market, and underscore the potential of the various higher education options in preparing students for successful careers.

The ROA and the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences jointly released a Fact Sheet with the results of the HBO Monitor 2023.