The university of the future: human capital
What will the organisation expect from our staff in 2025? About 25 participants, both scientific and support and administrative staff, discussed this question during a Strategic Plan brainstorming session about ‘human capital’ on 6 November.
What will the organisation expect from our staff in the future? Which ambitions in the field of human capital should our university aspire to in the 21st century? And what does this mean for us as an organisation? The following main themes were discussed: strong leadership, taking control of your own professional development and mobility, staff members’ professional autonomy, flexibility and tailor-made solutions and opportunities.
Developments and impact on positions
Various scientists, governors and HR professionals are present at the debate session. Bert van der Zwaan represents the Executive Board. Van der Zwaan opens the meeting by stating that he has come first and foremost to listen to the thoughts, wishes and ideas that will be voiced about the theme. Joop Schippers, Professor of Labour Economics and former chair of the Council of the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance, starts out by outlining the framework of today’s theme: the complete set of knowledge and skills that we possess to execute our objectives as a university. What does it entail, both in view of our primary and our supporting processes? Which trends have an impact on the future execution of positions such as teachers, researchers and support and administrative staff? And what requirements do these trends demand from the way we work? Schippers wonders whether there is still a healthy balance between what we are doing ourselves and what we are supported in. We sometimes ask an awful lot from our staff. Schippers concludes by referring to the care responsibilities in our society, what this asks from our staff and that, as a result, they may sometimes be temporarily less available. This requires tailor-made solutions.
Professional development, leadership and flexibility
The participants divide up into three smaller groups to further discuss the following questions: ‘What does Utrecht University require in the field of human capital to remain successful in the future?’ and ‘Which developments will have an impact?’. The discussions are convivial: it quickly appears that most of the participants agree on many points. ‘Remaining valuable’, for instance, is important: the continuous professional development of and options for mobility for our staff. Both the staff and the university carry a responsibility here. A forward-looking (external) view is of the essence: what will be coming our way and how will this affect us as a university, our professional fields or departments and us as individual members of the university community? This strongly depends on another often-mentioned issue: inspiring leadership, by supervisors as well as personal leadership by staff members. What is also important here is the shift towards more flexible employment forms[A1] . This requires a healthy balance between the provision of security and the agility of the organisation. Possible ways to solve this include the offering of flexible terms of employment and mobility opportunities, and a focus on transferable skills and to encourage discussions about behaviour.
Van der Zwaan concludes the meeting with a wrap-up of all he heard this afternoon: flexible terms of employment, strong leadership, professional autonomy of staff, taking control of your own professional development and mobility, fewer rules, as an organisation offer more freedom and flexibility and, at the same time, make it ‘feel like home’.
Join in the discussion!
From October to December, you are more than welcome to share your thoughts about the future of Utrecht University. During special sessions staff, students, alumni and partners of the University can discuss themes which they believe are important. You will be able to share your views on education and research, but also on the question of how the University could become even more sustainable and what role the campuses could play in creating an inspiring working and living environment.
Want to know more?
Read more about how the Strategic Plan is created and how you can contribute.