Human capital challenges in healthcare

Why engage students for this? We were hoping for fresh ideas, and we were able to find and get them.

Countless companies are currently looking for new staff, but the need is perhaps felt most acutely in healthcare, where professionals are struggling with high workloads, dropouts and a shortage of new colleagues. Through the Future of Work hub, the Utrecht Talent Alliance came into contact with sociology students at Utrecht University. They were asked to come up with solutions to the human capital challenges in healthcare.

What did the collaboration entail?

The students follow the master's programme Contemporary Social Problems. In groups of about six students, they worked together for six weeks. They had to approach this issue from the point of view of theory, which they often do initially from their own discipline, sociology, but we also challenged them to look beyond that boundary, at psychology, at human resource management and other relevant disciplines.

Purpose of collaboration in education

In this particular case, they had to actually come up with a product, substantiate it scientifically, think creatively, work together and, of course, know how to present the final product properly to the client. The latter gives feedback, which the students can then use to refine or expand their plan. For students, it is important that, as academic professionals, they also learn to work with clients from society. The task of the alliance is to better match job supply and demand in the Utrecht region. For example, by helping people switch to professions with shortages and with growth potential.

I have worked with 'real' stakeholders before, but each case is unique. Thus, this experience was also very interesting and, above all, challenging!

Jill van Hennik, master student

(Intended) outcome

The students had thought that new employees needed a "soft landing": better reception by colleagues, a better induction process, a realistic expectation of the job, more attention to all this. That was a very good idea and the solution direction was well thought out. They had made a useful booklet for it for an employer.

Joyce Oomen, from the Utrecht Talent Alliance, was impressed by several groups of students anyway. They could present professionally, came up with posters, leaflets, booklets and clear explanations. They had tackled the question thoroughly. She brought one or two of the ideas from this project to the attention of employers' association Utrechtzorg. According to her, there are of course always points that could be improved; students sometimes come up with very nice plans: but what does it cost to implement? Doesn't this come at the expense of staff productivity? Despite this, she is certainly happy with the results from this project.

Collaborator on behalf of UU

Master students of the master's programme Contemporary Social Problems.

Collaborating external party

Utrecht Talent Alliance.