Organisation - June 6, 2019

Column Guido - In short supply

Guido Camps

WUR is doing well. So well that we need new buildings to accommodate new staff and students. And the sooner we start, the better. In fact, we should have started a bit earlier.


Guido Camps (34) is a vet and a postdoc at the Human Nutrition department. He enjoys baking, beekeeping and unusual animals.

In some buildings, people are sitting in the corridor, in Axis they’re in a container in the carpark, and at our office in Helix, every square metre is being measured up to see whether another desk can be squeezed in.

Meanwhile, it’s not just WUR that’s doing well but the whole economy. As a result, the Netherlands has a very low unemployment rate: the second lowest in Europe. That is good news for graduates: take your time, pursue several options and take the best offer you get, because as a highly qualified WUR alumnus, you are in short supply at the moment, and scarcity pushes prices up.

What we offer PhD students does not adapt to the competitive labour market

But scarcity on the labour market has a complex side effect for the university, as it makes it harder to find new PhD students. Gone are the days when you could take your pick of the good MSc students. What we offer PhD researchers is enshrined in the law and the labour agreement, and it does not adapt to the competitive market. Plus, if you come here you might end up with half a desk in the corridor.

So as well as advising new graduates to be selective, I have a question for the university. If this tight labour market is the ‘new normal’, as some predict, how are we going to offer the best deal, as befits the best university in the Netherlands?