Study & Work 2016

Publication number: 2016-47
Authors: S. van der Werff, P. Bisschop
Commissioned by: Elsevier
Published by: SEO Amsterdam Economics
ISBN: 978-90-6733-818-9

This is the twentieth edition of the SEO/Elsevier survey ‘Study & Work’. Study & Work 2016 analyses the current labour market position of graduates and the labour market relevance of higher vocational education and university degrees, based on data for the years 1999-2016. The most recent cohort concerns graduates from higher vocational education institutions and universities who have entered the labour market during the academic year 2013/2014 and were interviewed in the first two months of 2016. This study compares the development of the labour market position of higher educated starters since 1999.

The labour market position of highly educated starters in 2016 provides a mixed picture, but generally speaking the crisis seems to be over. Permanent employment, a year and a half after graduation, seems to be making somewhat of a comeback. Higher vocational and university graduates have about 30 percent chance of finding permanent employment; a year ago this was only 25 percent. It also takes less time for graduates to find a job. On average, higher vocational graduates are looking for employment for a little over three months whereas it takes university graduates a good four months. Graduates of the youngest cohort are therefore much less often unemployed than earlier cohorts of graduates. The salaries of higher educated people are lagging behind a bit in comparison to previous years, though. Recently started alumni earn 10 percent less than alumni who began their employment in late 2010. The unemployment rates of higher vocational and university graduates have declined sharply in 2016. Both are now at about the same level of 3.5 percent, whereas they were well above 5 percent in recent years. After an increase for many years, for the first time graduates now need to apply for fewer jobs before finding employment.

Graduates of science studies do well in the labour market in particular. In general, they quickly find a job with good employment conditions and look back at their choice of study without regret. For them, the crisis on the labour market is clearly over. For graduates of various other studies the situation remains relatively unfavourable. This is true in particular for those who have received an education in the field of culture. They find it hard to a find a suitable job and are (therefore) often dissatisfied with the study they chose. Graduates of study programmes with a traditionally low labour market relevance are taking the hits, whereas employers are lining up for other graduates.

Higher vocational graduates regret their choice of study more often than university graduates do. Alumni of technical and other types of science studies are often satisfied with their education choice. Graduates who have received an education in such fields as media & entertainment management and cultural studies regret their choice relatively often. Alumni of other study programmes with less favourable labour market prospects also regret their choice of education relatively frequently. The proportion of graduates who regret both the study and the educational institution that they have chosen, has decreased in recent years. This may have to do with the improved labour market position of recent graduates. Depending on the educational institution, there are large differences between the degree of regret regarding the choice of institution. Inholland University of Applied Sciences and the University of Twente have the highest proportion of graduates who regret their choice of institution, whereas graduates from TU Delft and Saxion generally are content with their choice

This report includes two statistical appendices that contain information for each study programme about the (labour market position of) graduates. They can be found at For the study 2,714 higher vocational graduates and 2,759 university graduates were surveyed at the beginning of this year through an online questionnaire, which is a response rate of 13 percent for higher vocational graduates and 20 percent for university graduates. This report presents data on 62 higher vocational bachelor’s programmes and 54 university master programmes.

Category: 2016, Siemen van der Werff, Paul Bisschop, Labour & Education