News - April 12, 2018

‘Give talented youngsters permanent contract’

Albert Sikkema

Recruiting and retaining enough talented young people over the next few years will require creativity and boldness, says the Refresh and Rejuvenate strategy working group. WUR needs to offer more permanent contracts and more flexibility.

Ingrid van der Meer (left) and Gerlinde de Deyn have placed bird boxes in the WUR buildings, where staff can deposit their thoughts on the rejuvenation of the organization. ©Sven Menschel

WUR is ageing and a lot of staff will be retiring over the next 10 years. They will have to be replaced by talented youngsters, but what is the best way to do this? Ingrid van der Meer of Wageningen Plant Research says WUR needs to adopt a policy in which young employees spend three to five years working with seniors so that they can profit from the seniors’ experience, expertise and network.

Van der Meer heads the Refresh and Rejuvenate strategy working group together with personal professor Gerlinde De Deyn. They are focusing on three questions: how to make WUR appeal to talented young people, how to keep them on board and how to keep the work innovative and interesting for all staff (young and old).

De Deyn thinks WUR can attract and retain talented people by being more flexible. By which she means letting staff determine their own working hours, keeping the buildings open 24 hours a day and making it easier for staff to temporarily work in a different group. This flexibility would let staff find their ideal work-life balance and help them have more contact with colleagues in other groups.

Van der Meer and De Deyn also think WUR should be bolder by giving talented young people a permanent job. At present, these talented scientists hop from one temporary contract to the next. The two women acknowledge that permanent contracts are a risk. So being bold also means that you should be quicker to dismiss people whose performance is not up to standard. AS

Theme: Refresh and Rejuvenate
WUR intends to present a new strategic plan next autumn. One of the 10 themes in that plan is Refresh and Rejuvenate. If you would like to join in the debate, you have three options: 1. Drop your ideas in the ‘bird boxes’ in the entrance of the WUR buildings. 2. Send your proposal to 3. Come to the working group meeting at 16:00 on 8 May in Impulse.

Also read: