July 28, 2005

Scarcity of science and engineering students in the Netherlands

Stimuleren keuze bètastudie heeft weinig effect op R&D

Press release
Het stimuleren van de deelname aan bèta-opleidingen lijkt geen effectief instrument voor het bevorderen van onderzoek en ontwikkeling (R&D) in Nederland. Meer dan de helft van de afgestudeerde bèta's en technici (kortweg: bèta's) gaat niet in R&D werken. Dat betekent dat veel subsidie elders in de economie neerslaat.

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Scarcity of science and engineering (S&E) graduates could potentially call for government intervention, because of the role of S&E's in R&D, and because R&D in turn is characterised by positive spillovers. First, we analyse the situation on the Dutch labour market for S&E graduates. We do not find evidence for scarcity of S&E graduates. Rather, the labour market position vis-à-vis other graduates weakened. A possible explanation to reconcile this conclusion with a widely felt concern of S&E shortages among employers is increasing internationalisation of the S&E labour market.

Concerning policy, we argue that expanding the stock of S&E graduates is not very effective for boosting R&D activity. More than half the number of S&E graduates do not end up working in R&D. De increasing internationalisation of the S&E labour market can diminish the attractiveness of S&E courses.

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