Increased attention for improved career perspectives. Take your chances!

Early career researchers (ECRs) have been facing concerns for career perspectives for a long time, but career development never seems to have been a priority of policy makers. Over the last twenty years the number of PhD students has more than doubled, while career opportunities for those wishing to continue their career inside academia have become increasingly sparse. In competition for the best scientists, universities had the tendency to focus on the happy few that show scientific excellence. But now, change is on the horizon.

Two break-throughs in science policy you should be aware of:

  • From 9 January 2015 the new Collective Labour Agreement (CAO)
    of Dutch Universities has become effective. It states that more opportunities will be offered to temporary employees to work on their career perspectives. Evidently, it is the employee who is responsible for his/her own career and the improvement of perspectives, but the employer should be increasingly open to facilitate this process in allowing time and means. This apply for improving the ECRs’ chances both to pursue a scientific career or to make their transition to careers outside academia. link to CAO [in Dutch]

In the near future it will also become clear how universities will use the new transition budget for employees whose temporary contract ends after 1 July 2015. As this also applies to early career researchers, this may be a possibility to support their transition to a career outside academia.

  • In November 2014 the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science published its Vision for Science 2025 for the coming 10 years. It states that measures will be taken to invest in versatile talent, amongst others by the set up of broader career paths for PhD students and postdocs and by better liaising PhD education to future employment. The implementation of this vision will be crystallized in the coming years. PCDI will be involved in this process as a booster for professional and career development in national and local talent policy.


What does this mean to you in practice?

Your institute is probably still working on the implementation of these intentions. But please be aware that the current situation is more favourable than ever to express your need for career development and negotiate for (means to support) your professional development. So if you are still looking for funding to take part in PCDI activities, now is the time for you to take initiative and negotiate for possibilities to improve your future perspective!


Lilian Menu is the founder and director of PCDI