Mind the gap! The transition of STEM students to the technological labour market

description project

The Dutch economy depends heavily on the technical sector. However, like in many other countries there is an ongoing shortage of highly educated professionals. And while more and more students select a study program in the fields of science, technology, engineering or math (STEM), a large part of graduates form a technical study program opt for a job outside the technical sector. A concept that has been shown to influence career choice is professional identity. Professional identity is the answer to the question “Who am I as a professional?”. The stronger a person identifies with their (future) profession, the more likely that they will continue on a career path towards that profession. Thus, a highly developed professional identity increases the chance that STEM students decide to work in the technical sector after graduation. However, as of now, little is known about the professional identity of STEM students. What is the professional identity of STEM students? How is the professional identity of STEM students developed and which activities (e.g. internships) influence that process? What is the socialization process of recent graduates of technical study programs in organizations? To analyze these questions, qualitative and quantitative research is done with both STEM students and professionals in the technical sector to gain more insight in the transition of STEM students to the technical labour market.

Expected outcomes

The main focus of this project is to gain more insight into STEM students’ professional identity and how that affects their career choice. In order to measure this, the Career Compass is developed. The Career Compass is an instrument that aims to analyze and provide STEM students’ with feedback on their professional identity in order to support them in making a deliberate career choice that suits their interest, values, and competences. Currently, the Career Compass is being further developed, with special focus on the feedback that is provided. Based on qualitative research with students and professionals in the technical sector, the content of feedback and the way that the feedback is provided is optimized to suit the needs of the end-users.


Maaike Endedijk

Ruth van Veelen  –  University of Utrecht

Randy Möwes

Natascha van Hattum  –  Saxion

Mirte Disberg-van Geloven  –  Saxion 

Duration of the project

July 2014 – March 2018

Funding and partners

This project is funded by TechYourFuture.

Contact person

Maaike Endedijk  -

Project website

Click here for the project website