WUR is doing well. The influx of students continues to grow, and Wageningen Research is acquiring more and more commissioned research. So, more employees are needed.
WUR will open up over 1000 positions this year, estimates WUR Recruitment Manager Johan Kanis. An increasing number of jobs remain open, as there is growing with other universities and knowledge institutes on the employment market. Recruitment is a time-consuming process. Precisely what percentage of the job openings is difficult to fill, is hard to say, says Kanis. ‘It’s a tough guess. Sometimes we extend the recruitment period or re-post the opening with altered requirements to increase the chance of success.’
What is causing the shortage in the employment market? ‘WUR’s domain has impact, there are abundant societal issues in the domains of, for example, climate, agriculture, biodiversity and bio-based economy’, Kanis explains. ‘We see other universities move into this domain, as are nutrition companies and engineering agencies. They are all fishing in the same pond within the employment market.’ During the corona crisis, there was a general sense of caution with respect to hiring staff. There currently appears to be a race to catch up.
Senior staff are particularly difficult to find. Wageningen Economic Research, for example, seeks experienced staff with a background in economics and knowledge of the domain. Such employees have been scarce for several years. However, openings that are difficult to fill are now also emerging at other sciences groups such as Food and Biobased Research. Moreover, life sciences businesses are also looking for new employees and frequently against better employment conditions than Wageningen Research.
Senior employees generally already have a job and are not actively looking for a new position. Thus, the Recruitment Team, which was launched in 2019, must deploy new ways of contacting senior employees. ‘They are not looking for us, so we must look for them. We already have an online campaign on LinkedIn and Reddit, but we seek more ways to get in touch with seniors that may want to switch to WUR. We are trying to locate them per sciences group.’
Chair groups and support teams such as ICT and Finance also have difficulties finding senior staff. Finding young academics is not an issue. That global employment market is very dynamic with many temporary contracts. ‘Our excellent reputation and, for instance, a Tenure Track attract talented researchers that we may offer a contract for a longer period’, Kanis states.
Over one thousand openings with a total number of just under 7,000 employees is a lot, particularly if you consider that hundreds of new staff members were recruited in recent years. In addition to the growth the organisation is experiencing, there is also an increased demand for replacements. This is the result of demographic ageing -the baby boomers are (almost) retiring- but also of WUR employees being enlisted by other employers.