Better connection to the job market

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Action plan

Collaboration of education and job market

Based on five work packages, this zone works with the professional field, research and education to improve the link between higher education and the job market. These work packages result in:

  1. Future-proof competence profiles: Guidelines for incorporating future-oriented competence profiles in higher education;
  2. Digital job market qualifications: Insights into how higher education can translate the developments and needs of the labor market into educational provision for (new) target groups (inside-out);
  3. Font-runner companies: A method with which knowledge of companies that are ahead can be included in the curriculum (outside-in);
  4. Co-innovating: Insight into how research efforts are translated into next practices for education and the professional field.
  5. Inventory of the job market: Inventory of stakeholders who are involved nationally and internationally with digitisation issues in the job market.

The plan

Goals for 2020

Five work packages

In the plans for 2020, each work package has both a focus on content and a focus on community building. The focus on content for each work package was established together with the entire zone team and input was collected from our contribution to the SURF Education Days and the 24-hour session of the Acceleration Plan in November 2019. In addition, the work packages are distinguished by different perspectives. Work package 1 deals with the content of required competences, work package 2 with educational design, work package 3 with the process of collaboration with the business community and work package 4 with knowledge innovation. The focus on community building also consists of various elements: 1) Community building between directly involved institutions in the zone and institutions outside of the zone during a work conference in June 2020, 2021, and 2022; 2) Informing institutions outside the zone about developments in coordination with Acceleration Plan communications advisor; 3) Validating, sharpening, and enriching outcomes with the zones Professional development, Flexibilisation, Digital educational resources, and Evidence-informed educational innovation with ICT.

In addition to the four work packages described above, in 2020 we will also work on a new work package: work package 0 “Job market inventory”. This is an inventory of stakeholders who are involved in policy making concerning digitalisation on the job market. These stakeholders are, for example, government agencies, interest groups, and research institutes.


Work package 0: Inventory of the job market

Stakeholders on the job market: Taking inventory of (national and international) stakeholders who are concerned with digitisation issues on the job market. These stakeholders are, for example, government agencies, interest groups, commercial parties, and research institutes. We also study the digital literacy requirements that have been drawn up for secondary education.

  • Which stakeholders are involved?
  • How do you stay informed of developments in that sector?
  • Which method do you use for this?
  • What are best practices in higher education with regard to the cooperative relationship with such a stakeholder?

Result: In 2020 there will be insight into: 1) stakeholders involved in digitisation issues on the job market, and 2) methodologies to keep up-to-date with developments in a sector.


Work package 1:Future-proof competence profiles

Competence profile with regard to digitisation:

  • Validating and enriching exemplary methodologies with existing frameworks for competence profiles.
  • Expanding the exemplary methodologies with three international cases of future-proof competence profiles in higher education.
  • Translating developments in the sectors of higher education in the coming years into the required competence profiles. The required competencies and the current competences will be compared. In 2020, we will start with the sector Economy.

Around the summer of 2020, three universities will have established mandatory competences for all of their curricula. We process these competencies in a toolkit.


  • There is insight into a possible competence profile that has been tested in the sector Economy of the Association of Universities of Applied Sciences (VH).
  • This competence profile is in line with/builds on the digital literacy as defined for secondary education.
  • A start has also been made on a systematic approach on the basis of which education sectors can screen their competence profiles for the necessary digital professional competences. It should also be possible to use this system when setting up new courses.


Work package 2: Qualifications for the digital job market

Applicability in other sectors: Using the results of 2019, we will examine whether the methods found can also be applied in non-IT environments in order to arrive at a suitable educational offer.

This leads to insight into proven interventions in the field of education that help shape the connection between the profile and the demands of the job market. The characteristics are translated into a step-by-step plan to shape education for current and new target groups in all sectors.

Student experience: The student experience is measured in four cases.

Current and new examples (national and international) are followed.

Result: Insight into proven interventions to shape education to match the demand of the job market and a first inventory of student experience.


Work package 3: Front-runner companies

Expansion of cases: Front-runner companies, who innovate faster than ‘the heartbeat of education’ concerning knowledge development and application, are tempted to enter into sustainable cooperation with higher education as partners. To this end, four new cases are collected and analysed.

Result: There is a broader insight, from more and different sectors, of how knowledge of front-runner companies is integrated into higher education. Conditions for a sustainable cooperation have been collected.


Work package 4: Co-innovation

Conditions for collaboration to make innovation possible:

  • The characteristics of 2019 will be translated into conditions aimed at sustainable co-innovation aimed at digital transformation.
  • Validate, tighten and enrich conditions.
  • Conditions are ready for use in new testing grounds.

Testing grounds:

  • Co-design or follow up new testing grounds for learning environments focused on co-innovation in the light of digital transformation.
  • Follow the development of existing case studies.
  • Explore the opportunities for regional hubs.

Result: Conditions for co-innovation and 1 or 2 living labs.


To see how the plans for 2020 fit in with what was implemented in 2019 and what is envisaged for 2023, we have made a plateau planning for each work package. For all work packages, 2019 was the year for a first inventory of subjects on the theme of the work package. These results will be expanded and validated further in 2020, and in some of the work packages the theme will also be studied from a different perspective.

Goals for 2023

Productive collaboration between work field, research and education

The productive collaboration between the professional field, higher education, and research in the field of digitalisation, is central to this zone. To this end, the zone develops methods that ensure that higher education and the job market are optimally aligned. We do this in four work packages. In concrete terms, this means that:

  • Methods have been developed and tested that make it possible to create and maintain future-proof competency profiles;
  • Higher education institutions have strengthened their capacity to translate needs of the job market into education for current and new target groups;
  • Higher education institutions use a methodology (given the increasingly shorter half-time of knowledge) to organise cooperation with the professional field in such a way that they incorporate knowledge of frontrunner companies into education more quickly.
  • Higher education institutions are better able to innovate in collaboration with the professional field and research in order to arrive at digital innovations.

The activities in the zone also provide building blocks for higher education administrators to sharpen their policies on improving alignment with the job market.

Preconditions for success

Extra capacity and decisive approach

For the 2020 plans, mostly the same conditions for success apply as in 2019. Namely;

  • Good internal and external cooperation;
  • Removing (or minimising) rules and procedures that stand in the way of flexibility;
  • Being able to think and work over the boundaries of institutions;
  • More flexible cooperation in the education chain;
  • Bringing in the job market (market-in instead of product-out);
  • Using the dynamics and speed of digital transformations for this acceleration task;
  • Cultural change: from bureaucratic orientation to an effective approach.

In addition, there are a number of additional conditions for success for 2020:

  • The substantive focus of the work packages can no longer be executed, in terms of capacity, by the team members themselves (also because of the small zone team). External investigations will also have to be conducted by external parties. This will require additional financing.
  • The appointment of a new connector must ensure proper coordination and cooperation with other zones.
Usability of results and dissemination

Working towards a toolbox

With regard to the various work packages, our zone always focuses on how the results can be used by educational institutions. For the results of 2019, for example, we won’t just look at the results of a cross-case analysis of well-functioning factors, commonalities and points for attention, but we will also look at how we can arrive at a concrete product of these results. A first brainstorm session about concrete products per work package was held with  the team, then an assignment was set out among instructional designers at Saxion to think about which concrete products could be developed. The instructional designers have delivered a detailed description and design, with which an assignment could then be given to an external company. For example, work package 4 could develop a VR environment to show what an innovation hub or innovation space looks like on the inside. In addition to visual representations, guidelines for cooperation and implementation tips could be described here. In addition to these concrete products, all work packages also work towards a toolbox in which the results and outcomes will be collected in a useful way. The toolbox will consist of 5 parts: one part for every work package.

Working method

Open collective circle

The zone team works in an “open collective circle”, in which the team works closely with input from outside the zone. The first year was mainly focused on the good practices that are already present in the participating institutions. The second year is all about broadening, deepening and validating. We will finish the academic year 2019/2020 with a work conference in which we will share our results more widely and give others the opportunity to critically review our work and provide input for the coming years. In addition, we will of course contribute to the annual SURF Education Days in 2020.


Looking back at 2019

The team worked on an initial inventory in the field of future-proof competence profiles, qualification for the digital job market, front-runner companies and co-innovation. 12 cases from 7 different institutions, were analysed and compared for commonalities. These cases all have a favorable effect on the connection to a changing job market. The analysis will be delivered in January/February 2020 in 4 different reports. A description of the 4 different work packages can be found below.

Work package 1 Future-proof competence profiles: Three methods have been compared on creating and maintaining future-proof competence profiles.

Work package 2 Digital job market qualification: Four methods have been compared on how higher education institutions translate job market needs into education for current and new target groups.

Work package 3 Front-runner companies: Two methods have ben compared on how higher education institutions organise cooperation with the professional field to incorporate knowledge of frontrunner companies into education quicker.

Work package 4 Co-innovating: Three methods have been compared on collaboration between companies, education, and research to realise digital innovations.

For the Job market connection zone, 2019 was a turbulent year with many changes. Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, for example, quit as a team member at an early stage, the connector gave up his duties and the team leader got seriously ill. This has influenced the speed of the progress of the results. Fortunately, Maastricht University, Fontys, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, the Police Academy and Saxion University of Applied Sciences, responded well to these circumstances and continued the work. A replacement for the absent team leader was found quickly within Saxion, which limited the delay of the overall progress.

Team leader

Caroline van de Molen

“It would be great if we had the following results in this zone in three years. Firstly, that universities of applied sciences and universities will use the method, or actually the toolkit with instruments, that we want to deliver and have delivered by the end of these three years. This means that in education and in the educational institutions there is a very short time to market, where it concerns digitisation and technological needs in the job market and that this is reflected in the educational offer. Of course, students also notice when they have graduated. That they are well prepared. And that they are also satisfied, of course, about what they have learned. And of course that the labor market, both with regard to cooperation with colleges and universities, is very satisfied, but also very satisfied with the students that we deliver to them. So that would be a very nice result, I think.”

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