10 May 2018 | Category: Study choice

Career of the future? Guaranteed work for your child?

By Denise Bood

What is the career of the future? What job should your child look for to have guaranteed work? What sector holds a future for your child? As the parent of a (prospective) student, you would like to know, but is that even possible? (Dutch version, in het Nederlands)

What is the career of the future? What job should your child look for to have guaranteed work?

What is the career of the future? What job should your child look for to have guaranteed work?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

It used to drive my children mad sometimes: when choosing between programmes, choosing a profile, and during exams—it was the same attentive question, “So, what do you want to be when you grow up? This question comes from neighbours, uncles, aunts, and, to top it all off, the school—all with the best intentions, of course. But what should you say if you are 12 or 13, or in my case, 16 or 18?

Career of the future: is that something you can know already?

Is it possible to know what the career of the future is? Even more difficult, can you know if you are suited for the career of the future? A few years ago, it seemed as if there was a great demand for jobs in healthcare. We are all ageing, after all, and older people require more healthcare. You would say that is logical, but there was a shift in attitude towards healthcare and the careers in the sector went up in smoke. There are countless examples like this.
However, there are policy makers who are also making predictions: jobs in technology and ICT—that is where you will find the career of the future. That may be true, but it might not be. It is hard to estimate how the world will look in 10 years, much less 50. A trade union swore that the youth of today would be working up until 72. That is still roughly 50 years after graduating. A half century—what kind of career can you recommend your child?

What you can know

What you can know is what career suits you and how you can take control of your own career. The foundation for taking control of your own life is knowing yourself. In career orientation and guidance lessons, the dean and/or mentors spend time on life questions such as: “Who are you?”, “What do you want?”, “What suits you?”, “What are you capable of?”, “How do you want to achieve that?”, and “Who can you help by doing that?” Would you like to know more about these career questions? If so, read the article: A career that suits you? Take control!

Is career orientation and guidance the right task for you as a parent?

Students say that, when making a study choice, they get a lot out of the advice from their family (47%), with the dean coming in second place (20%). Students even appreciate the advice from their families more than the advice they receive at school. Students find it best when both the school and parents help together. Be sure to be in contact with the dean or mentor of your child and attend the parents’ nights regarding study choice. Sometimes, career nights are organised at school as well.

But which career of the future can you recommend as a parent then?

I do not think there is any profession that you can recommend. However, by closely looking at themselves, the prospective student can discover what sector they should be exploring. Do they have a passion for ICT? For education? For working in nature? Would they like to help people later in life?
I particularly recommend looking into themes and sectors in which your true passion lies. If you find a sector that you are actually passionate about, grow in that sector, and become good at your profession, then you will find that career sooner or later. Consider this: If you choose a certain career now, how will you know that the job will not become completely different in a number of years. The story of the general practitioner below is unfortunately the rule and not the exception.

I became a doctor because I was convinced that was what I wanted. What appealed to me about it was the intensive contact with people. If someone showed up during my office hours with a seemingly insignificant issue, I could also talk about other, real problems. Since I also made house calls, I could place these stories well within their context. Now, my job has completely changed. There is hardly time to talk anymore, I rarely make house calls, and sometimes, I’m almost drowning in the rules and protocols. This is not what I made the decision to do when I was young.

The way jobs are now is sure to change in the decades to come. If you focus on just one job now, is that really a good decision?

But which career of the future can you recommend as a parent then

But which career of the future can you recommend as a parent then?

Flexible work

The hallmark of today’s labour market is that people often change jobs and job types. On average, less than half of employees are still working in the same field at the end of their careers for which they studied. That definitely applies to people with an HBO or WO education. However, people often do continue to work in the same sector. An example:

I studied sociology. I first did research with the municipalities, but quickly started providing training programmes for officials. I still do that nowwith my own training agency.

What does this say about study programmes? The prospective profession still plays a role during an HBO programme through the variety of practical examples and the work placement. At university, you receive a comprehensive, academic education. Professional preparation rarely plays a role in it. After completing a university education, you can still go in many directions.

The jobs of today

For what it’s worth, you can research the sectors that offer work, together with your son or daughter. The job opportunities for each degree programme are mentioned in the Keuzegids, which contains a handy summary of all degree programmes in the Netherlands. The Keuzegids also provides an evaluation of the quality of education of those degree programmes. In any case, it is useful for your child’s CV if they complete a well-known degree programme. An internet search also yields predictions about the career of the future.


If I may make a prediction myself, I expect that skills will play a larger role in the future. It is exactly because the labour market changes so quickly and unpredictably that skills will play an increasingly greater role, in my opinion. Can you be flexible? Can you learn new things quickly? Do you have good digital skills? Can you communicate well? Do you have organisational talent? Can you quickly recognise a new trend and take advantage of it?

It is already true that students who spend time developing their skills in addition to their degree programme, whether it be a part-time job or as part of a committee, find work more quickly. I expect that trend to continue. The career of the future? I do not have a crystal ball, but I am sure that you should look for a career that suits you, in which your true passion lies.

By Denise Bood

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