"The connection to the job market is relevant for everyone in education"
To celebrate the launch of the new Acceleration Plan website, we did a series of interviews with members of the Acceleration Plan about their experiences in higher education. Today: Lonneke Brands.
Lonneke is educational advisor at Saxion University of Applied Sciences. As a team member of the zone Better connection to the job market, she conducts research and immediately puts the results into practice at her own institution.
Why did you end up in higher education?
“I was always interested in people’s behaviour. I started with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Twente and I like it, but I wanted to learn more about the positive side of human development. That is why I did a master’s in Instruction, learning, and development. During my master’s I also did some teaching, but I did not want to continue doing that, because it’s intensive and because I did not support everything. The thing I find most interesting is to see how things can be done differently. What is nice about my current position is that I can spend my time making education better and more fun.”
How did you experience the connection to the job market as a student?
“I did not have a clear idea of where my education could get me on the job market. Once I was in my position at Saxion, I noticed that I was well prepared and that I had the right skills. So in hindsight the connection was good, but beforehand it felt insecure and invisible.”
What is your current role within Saxion?
“Based at Saxion, I was appointed as a junior researcher within the zone Job market connection. Until recently, I was an instructional designer for the ICT and education programme, where I helped lecturers to solve various issues, such as: how do I make sure that students come to class better prepared? I still work as an educational advisor, but my current position involves more research. ”
Why did you join the Acceleration Plan?
“As an instructional designer you know a little about many topics, but I felt the need to get into something deeper. When the Acceleration Plan came along, I took that opportunity. The connection to the job market is a relevant theme for everyone who does something with education. This position allows me to deal with both theory and practice.”
Institutions must be confident that their graduates are ready for the changing job market
What does the research of your zone involve?
We have four lines of research. The first is to develop future-proof competence profiles. How do you ensure that graduates are well prepared for a changing job market? Research line two is about how you can rearrange existing education in such a way that it suits new target groups, such as professionals who want to retrain. These are the two lines of research that I am involved in. Another junior researcher is examining how an educational institution can acquire the knowledge of ‘knowledge predecessors’ from the business community, and about the collaboration between business, education and research to realise digital innovations and new knowledge.”
What does membership of the zone mean for your institution?
“Although we are not yet able to show research results, I notice that there is more talk about the topic of job market connection within the institution. Saxion has set up an internal steering group, which includes participants from the various acceleration zones and other stakeholders within the institution. Together we already determine a bit of the course within Saxion. We expect the zone to have the first final results by February 2020. Then, based on the research results, we will set up pilots at Saxion’s academies.”
What do you hope the zone will have achieved in four years?
“I hope that by then the themes of employability and the preparation of students for digital developments and transformations will be embedded within the institutions. Colleges and universities must be confident that their graduates are ready for the changing job market, in which automation, robotics and artificial intelligence play an increasingly important role.”
Original text: Marjolein van Trigt