News - April 28, 2010

Fewer jobs for fresh graduates

It is getting harder for fresh graduates of Wageningen university and VHL to find jobs. Those with technical, specialist degrees are faring better.

Degree certificates for the ceremony
Due to the economic crisis, there are fewer jobs going in the green sector. Fresh graduates are beginning to feel the pinch, the employment agencies linked to the University and VHL are noticing. 'There is still a call for real experts with at least five years' experience. And there are a few junior posts coming in still, but far fewer than there used to be. It has got harder for academics without work experience', says Rob van Zwieten, director of the Wageningen agency for jobseekers, KLV Professional Match.
Jobs are not there for the taking for VHL graduates either. 'It varies a bit per sector', says Willem Zevenberger, branch manager of Agrojobs in Velp. 'The job market in nutrition is very tough at the moment. But in agribusiness it is going surprisingly well. There are still commercial jobs coming up there.'
It is a mixed picture for the green landscape programmes in Velp. 'General degree programmes don't match the demands of the job market. There is still a demand for the more technical and specialist programmes, which are often not as appealing at the start.'
Starters would be well advised to be less critical and to apply for posts which are 'not quite real jobs', says Zevenburger. It is also good to be in tune with business practice. 'If you are a landscape designer, learn to draw with AutoCAD, for example. That will help give you a way into a company.'
On your CV, extra-curricular activities are becoming more and more important. Van Zwieten: 'It is a big plus if you have been chair of a club like AIESEC. That scores better than a party committee at a student society.' Job application training can help too. 'Wageningen graduates are often strong on their subjects. But they are not so good at getting their strong points across in an interview. Perhaps they get less practice in their programmes', says Van Zwieten. The job market is expected to recover in a few years' time, as the baby boom generation gradually retires. The economy will probably pick up before that. Van Zwieten: 'It is a question of waiting for companies to start investing. They are still rather cautious at present.'
The government is making cuts on all fronts. 'Increasingly, councils and provinces are not taking on any new employees', warns Rob van Zwieten. He does see opportunities for starters in traineeships with government companies, though. 'But they are generally for potential management functions, so that has to suit you.'
'It used to be the case that many of our starters qualified for vacancies at municipal councils', says Willem Zevenburger from Agrojobs. 'That is negligible now; councils are keeping their hands on the purse strings.'